Nebraska Ornithologists' Union


Date of this Version



Brogie & Brogie, "Black Rail in Knox County, Nebraska," from Nebraska Bird Review (June 1987) 55(2).


Copyright 1987, Nebraska Ornithologists' Union. Used by permission.



The Black Rail (Laterallus jamaicensis) is apparently an extremely rare spring and fall migrant in Nebraska (Johnsgard, 1980). No breeding evidence for this species exists for the state. although several field guides show Nebraska at the northern edge of this rail's breeding range. A description of a Black Rail seen 22 April 1980 in Lancaster Co. (NBR 48: 88 is the only accepted record (Class III) of this species in the state (Bray et al., 1986). Whitney et al., 1978) makes no mention of this species for South Dakota. although Iowa has several records, two of which suggest the possibility of nesting (Dinsmore et al., 1984). A tape-recording of calls from the below mentioned bird represents the first positive proof occurrence of a Black Rail in Nebraska.

On the night of 25 May ] 986 we heard a Black Rail calling from a wet meadow (S½SW¼SW¼, Sec. 2, T31N, R7W) in Knox Co. The "kik-kee-do" call was repeated in approximately three to six second intervals. We were in possession of a tape of this species' vocalizations (National Geographic Society - Guide to Bird Sounds) and tried to attract the bird by playing a rendition of its calls. Although the bird was constantly calling and moving back and forth along a small waterway, we were not successful in attracting the bird closer than an approximately 50-yard distance. A tape-recording of the Rail's vocalizations was made and a copy will be turned over to the Records Committee. Although the quality of the tape is poor, the Rail's calls are discernible on good audio equipment. We listened to the Rail for about 45 minutes and when we left at approximately 10: 30 PM it was still calling. We returned the next night, and again several nights later, but on both nights we were unable to hear or find the bird.