King Rails (Rallus elegans) in the more northerly, migratory population that breeds in the Upper Midwest (i.e., Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan, Iowa, Indiana, Illinois, and Ohio), USA, are poorly studied due to their low abundance and secretive nature. A pilot project was conducted in 2014 and 2015 to evaluate trapping efficiency and detection techniques of King Rails in northwest Ohio. The project site has held strong numbers of King Rails historically, but they are now rarely recorded during formal marshbird surveys. The objectives of this project included evaluating the trapping efficiency of walk-in traps in comparison to whoosh nets for King Rails and comparing secretive marshbird surveys with call-broadcast trap sites monitored by trail cameras for obtaining King Rail detection data. Six King Rails were captured using walk-in traps, and two were captured using whoosh nets. Whoosh nets proved to be more effective with a capture rate of 0.28 individual King Rails per trap night compared to 0.02 individuals captured per trap night using walk-in traps. Based on an estimated minimum count, 13 King Rails were detected in 2 years at established trapping locations (n = 147 trap nights) as compared to zero King Rail detections during that same time period while conducting secretive marshbird surveys (n = 84 points). The current secretive marshbird survey protocol may be handicapped for rare species with low rates of detectability because the surveys are limited on a temporal scale (i.e., only 10 min of monitoring per survey point in many instances). A camera trap array could be a viable option for developing occupancy models or even estimates of abundance for these rare species and further informing secretive marshbird survey data.
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Vol. 40 • No. 1