Rallus jamaicensis Gmelin, 1789, Jamaica. Four subspecies recognized.
OTHER COMMON NAMES
French: Rвle noir; German: Schieferralle; Spanish: Polluela Negruzca.
4.7–6 in (12–15 cm); 0.7–1.6 oz (20.5–46 g). Small and dark, nape to mantle orangy- to reddish brown, upperparts and rear underparts barred or spotted white. Undertail-coverts cinnamon in two races. Female paler on foreparts; juvenile browner, plainer. Hatchlings covered with black down.
L. j. coturniculus: California; L. j. jamaicensis: eastern United States and eastern Central America, winters from coastal southern and eastern United States to Guatemala and Greater Antilles; L. j. murivagans: coastal central Peru; L. j. tuerosi: lower Junin, Peruvian Andes; L. j. salinasi: southern Peru, central Chile and western Argentina
Marshes and wet grassland.
Territorial when breeding. Some populations migratory, others sedentary. Male’s breeding “kic-kic-kerr” call distinctive.
FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET
Eats mainly small invertebrates; also fish, tadpoles, and seeds.
Monogamous; occasional polygyny possible. Breeds in summer in United States, during rains in South America. Nest a bowl of grasses or rushes with a woven canopy, low in marsh vegetation. Eggs two to 13; color is buffy to pinkish-white, with brown speckling concentrated at larger end. Incubation 17–20 days.
L. j. tuerosi is Endangered and is known from only two sites at lower Junin, where it is at risk from pollution and water level fluctuations. Other races are Lower Risk/Near Threatened. Most United States populations declined drastically in twentieth century.
SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS
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