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Tuesday, January 30 • 1:40pm - 2:00pm
SYMPOSIA-08: King Rail Trapping and Telemetry at the Winous Point Marsh Conservancy

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AUTHORS. Brendan Shirkey, John Simpson, Mike Picciuto - Winous Point Marsh Conservancy; Tom Kashmer, Sandusky County Parks District

ABSTRACT. King rails (Rallus elegans) in the northerly, migratory population that breeds in the Upper Midwest (i.e., Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan, Iowa, Indiana, Illinois, and Ohio), USA, are poorly studied due to their low abundance and secretive nature. We conducted a pilot project (2014-2017) to evaluate trapping efficiency and detection techniques of king rails in northwest Ohio. The project site, a privately owned WRE coastal wetland complex, held strong numbers of king rails historically, but they are now rarely recorded during formal marshbird surveys. The objectives of this project included (1) evaluating trapping efficiency of walk-in traps compared to whoosh nets for capturing king rails, (2) comparing secretive marshbird surveys with call-broadcast trap sites monitored by trail cameras for obtaining king rail detection data and (3) obtaining migratory and wintering data by equipping king rails with satellite transmitters. Six king rails were captured using walk-in traps, and two were captured using whoosh nets. Whoosh nets were more effective with a capture rate of 0.28 king rails/trap night compared to 0.02 king rails/trap night using walk-in-traps. Based on an estimated minimum count, 13 King rails were detected in 2 years at established trapping locations (n = 147 trap nights) compared to zero King rail detections during that same period while conducting secretive marshbird surveys (n = 84 points).  We obtained some of the first migratory and wintering locations (n = 4 thus far) for king rails breeding in the Upper Midwest to date. Fall migratory departure dates varied from late August to early October and all marked birds wintered in southern Louisiana. This project provides valuable life history information for king rails breeding in the Upper Midwest and highlights the potential limitation (limited temporal scale 10 mins/survey point) of using the secretive marshbird monitoring protocol for extremely rare species of secretive marshbirds.

Tuesday January 30, 2018 1:40pm - 2:00pm CST