Small rails remain poorly known due to their secretive habits and the lack of adequate methods for their study. Here we describe and test a novel method for trapping small rails. The V-netting arrangement comprises two 12m mist-nets placed at ground level, forming a V along previously cleared trails. The bottom of the mist-net is positioned on the ground facing the V inwards and staked to prevent birds from escaping. Birds are lured inside the V using playback and driven into the mist-nets by two people that monitor bird responses and react accordingly. We tested this method across the Neotropical region with six species of Laterallus crakes, capturing 20 individuals in 20 attempts, comprising three Grey-breasted Crakes L. exilis, three Black-banded Crakes L. fasciatus (= Porzana fasciata), five Red-and-white Crakes L. leucopyrrhus, three Rufous-sided Crakes L. melanophaius, four Ruddy Crakes L. ruber and two Rufous-faced Crakes L. xenopterus. Although variation was large, mean capture success resulted in one capture per setup. Our method for capturing small rails in tall and dense habitats provides a new, efficient and safe alternative that is focused, actively monitored and dynamic. It may be profitably used to trap other territorial land birds of dense and tall habitats.—Depino, E.A. & Areta, J.I. (2020). V-netting with playback: an active cost-effective method for trapping small rails.
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Vol. 67 • No. 1