A reliable and effective technique for capturing rails would improve researchers' ability to study these secretive marsh birds. The time effectiveness and capture success of four methods for capturing rails in emergent marsh and agricultural wetlands in southern Louisiana and Texas were evaluated during winter and breeding seasons. Methods were hand and net capture from an airboat at night, an all-terrain vehicle (ATV) at night, an ATV during daylight rice harvest and passive capture using drop-door traps with drift fencing. Five hundred and twenty rails were captured (and 21 recaptures): 192 King Rails (Rallus elegans), 74 Clapper Rails (R. longirostris), 110 Virginia Rails (R. limicola), 125 Sora (Porzana Carolina) and 40 Yellow Rails (Coturnicops noveboracensis). Methods used at night were effective at capturing rails: capture from airboats yielded 2.13 rails per hour each airboat was operated and capture from ATVs yielded 1.80 rails per hour each ATV was operated. During daylight, captures from ATVs during rice harvest (0.25 rails per hour each ATV was operated) and passive drop-door traps with drift fencing (0.0054 rails per trap hour) were both inefficient.
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Vol. 33 • No. 3