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Rail Splitting
Ed Mirsky | Hoska Drive

Ridgeway’s Rail (the former Clapper Rail).
Photo Steve Brad
Click on image to enlarge.


Every summer the American Ornithologists’ Union’s North American Classification Committee publishes a “Check-list Supplement.” And this summer was no exception. With the aid of behavioral evidence, morphological evidence, genetic evidence and wine, the committee lumped, split, and divined new species, and when all the wine was imbibed our beloved Light-footed Clapper Rail was no more. But fear not, it was lumped with King Rails resident in Mexico and is now known as Ridgway’s Rail in honor of the American ornithologist Robert Ridgway (1850 – 1929). In all, the two species Clapper Rail—King Rail complex was split into five species: (1) Ridgway’s Rail of California, Arizona, and Nevada; (2) Clapper Rail of coastal eastern North America; (3) King Rail of eastern U.S., southern Ontario, and Cuba; (4) Mangrove Rail of South America; and (5) Aztec Rail in the Mexican highlands.

Ridgway’s Rail is one of 221 bird species identified at the San Dieguito and in the near-shore Pacific off Dog Beach since January 2010 when the lagoon restoration was completed and The San Dieguito Lagoon Area Monthly Bird Survey began.



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