Black Rail (Laterallus jamaicensis)

Number of accepted Black Rail records for Louisiana = 12 as of August 2017



Accepted Records

One (1937-02) about 4 April 1937, Jefferson: Grand Isle; Fredericks Bradberry (LSUMZ 1377).

One sex unknown (1966-05) on 28 March 1966, Cameron: Grand Chenier, Rockefeller Refuge; A. W. Palmisano (LSUMZ 51244).


Photo by Donna L. Dittmann

One (1969-05) on 20 April 1969, Cameron: near S line Sabine NWR on Magnolia Road; Marshall Eyster (LSUMZ 60774, partial skeleton and wing).

Two singing males (1982-38; formerly 89-103) on 24 Apr. 1982, Cameron: 0.5 mi. NNE Creole; Steven W. Cardiff (one collected, LSUMZ #104011), MBR, GHR (AB 42(5):862).

Two (1995-103) on 7 Oct 1995, Natchitoches: rice fields 3 mi. S of Powhatan exit (Hwy. 485) on I-49 and 3/8 mi. W of interstate; Roger J. Breedlove and Charles E. Lyon.

One (2000-77), sex unknown, on 26 Mar 2000, Gulf of Mexico: Green Canyon 18 oil platform, 122 mi. S of Morgan City, 27o 56’ 37” N, 91 o 01’ 45” W; found dead on rig by Brian L. Sullivan (LSUMZ; Donna L. Dittmann 7019).

One sex unknown (2007-60) on 23 September 2007, Cameron: ca 3 mi. W Holly Beach; Paul E. Conover (DLD 9123, ph) and B. Mac Myers III, and Donna L. Dittmann (*, skeleton & spread wing.)
Photo by Donna L. Dittmann

As many as two singing/calling (2008-36) on 27 April 2008, Cameron: west side Cameron ferry; Phillip Wallace (audio), B. Mac Myers III, and Devin Bosler; Curtis C. Sorrells was also involved in the discovery. Last date apparently 10 May.

One adult male in breeding condition (2010-66) on 4 July 2010, Vermilion: intersection Hwy. 91 and Spencer Road, approximately 4 mi. S of Gueydan; Paul E. Conover (LSUMZ), Donna L. Dittmann (DLD 10105). Found dead on edge of road, ant damage to head but otherwise in fresh condition.

One immature male (2010-65) on 30 October 2010, Cameron: Hwy. 82 just W of Holly Beach; Kevin Colley and Jennifer Alexander (ph), Donna L. Dittmann (DLD 10000). The rail was found dead on the side of the road.

One heard singing (2013-069) on 23 March 2013, Cameron: Broussard Beach, 3.1 mi. ESE Cameron; Erik I. Johnson (audio).


One vocalizing (2016-013) on 22 April 2016, Cameron: Lighthouse Woods, Oscar Johnson (audio) eBird link. Reportedly found by Andre Moncrieff.

Unaccepted Records

One (89-145) on 16 Aug. 1989, Lafourche: about 1/2 mi. south-west of entrance to Elmer's Island. The viewing conditions, 15 seconds in car headlights, did not enable the observer to see the chestnut nape or white patterning on the bird's plumage. Additionally, the description did not convincingly eliminate the possibility of a downy Clapper Rail (Rallus longirostris) chick, possibly more likely than a Black Rail on this date. The observer reported that the bird had large feet "appearing out of proportion for size of bird" and had a "stout body," further suggesting a baby Rallus rather than a Black Rail.

One bird (90-44) on 10 May 1990, Orleans: New Orleans. This report involved a bird found dead inside an industrial plant adjacent to a canal. Unfortunately, the carcass was not saved. The description was rudimentary and did not provide enough detail to substantiate this record.

One (1993-64) on 18 Dec 1993, Evangeline: Millers Lake. Despite the observer’s reported familiarity with this species, all but one member believed that this heard-only record, involving a single three-second burst of “grrrr” calls, was not sufficient to document an inland winter occurrence.

One (1995-05) on 1 Feb 1995, Cameron: Garner Ridge, 3 mi. W of Johnsons Bayou School. Although most members believed that the bird may have been correctly identified, the combination of a brief glimpse without the aid of binoculars, and that the bird could not be immediately re-found following an extensive search of the area, resulted in a non-accept vote on the second circulation.

Two (1995-69) on 8 Apr 1995, Cameron: 3 mi. N of Holly Beach water tower at E. Mud Lake Field. This record received a mixed vote (3-4) on the second circulation. Members accepting this record believed that the description was adequate because the birds were seen and heard. Members who did not accept the record believed that the details were just too sketchy (very brief description, no elaboration on how the birds were located, when and how many calls were heard) for such an outstanding record. If both observers (instead of only one) had submitted a report and elaborated on the details of the observation more thoroughly, this record might have been accepted.

One adult (2005-04) on 7 May 2005, Red River: 1 mi. E of Williams, ¼ mi. NE of intersection of Hwy. 1 and parish road 408. All but one member believed that the ten-second view without binoculars from a moving tractor was insufficient to document such an incredible record.

One (1992-90) on 23 October 1992, Jefferson Davis: couple miles S of Thornwell. This individual was included on a list submitted to eBird and flagged, the record was then submitted to the LBRC based on memory. We commend the observer for taking the time to submit this record and add it to the archive. However, the description was exceptionally brief: “a tiny blackcolored rail.” There are few accepted records of Black Rail away from the immediate coast and none have been found in this area during extensive recent work watching for rails from rice combines.

One (1987-002) on 20 December 1987, Cameron: Magnolia Road Area (Sabine NWR CBC) on Texaco Rd. A brief observation in the headlights of a vehicle did not convince Members that other species were adequately eliminated from consideration.

One (2012-155) on 29 December 2012, Ascension: approximately 1 mi. NW intersection of Motavit Rd. and Hwy. 61. This is a heard-only report of a “growl” call. All Members believed that the details were not adequate to support the identification.

One (2013-071) on 4 April 2013, Jefferson: Grand Isle, Humble Rd. (Exxon Fields). The report involved a brief sighting of a bird in flight. Most Members believed that the observation was too brief and that details provided were not adequate to accept this report.

One (2013-072) on 6 April 2013, Jefferson: Grand Isle, Humble Rd. (Exxon Fields). This was also a brief observation of a flushed bird. Although at more or less the same location as 2013-071, Members were reluctant to consider these two reports as “reinforcing” each other, and the report was ultimately considered unaccepted.

One (2013-077) on 26 April 2013, Cameron: Rutherford Beach Rd. Identification was based on hearing a single song. Most Members believed that more than one vocalization (and preferably recordings thereof) would have been necessary to confirm the presence of a Black Rail.

One heard (2013-086) on 22 November 2013, Ascension: ca 1 mi. NW intersection Motavit Rd. and Hwy. 61. The bird was heard-only giving a “growl call.” The location, date, description of the call, and the observer’s inexperience with the species were all factors in the non-acceptance of the report.

One heard (2015-014) on 3 February 2015, Cameron: Cameron, Wakefield Rd., marsh near Tiger Tanks Company. All Members were in agreement that more than a single “urrr” call was needed to document this species.