The Clapper Rail (Rallus longirostris) is a member of the rail family, Rallidae. It is found along the east coast of North America, the coasts and some islands of the Caribbean, and across northern South America to eastern Brazil. On the west coast, it breeds from central California through Mexico and south to northwestern Peru.
Despite this wide range, numbers of the Clapper Rail are now very low on the United States' west coast, because of destruction of the coastal marshland habitat. The largest population of the western subspecies, California Clapper Rail, R. l. obsoletus, numbering something under 3000 birds, is in San Francisco Bay; there is a small inland population along the Colorado River. On the US east coasts, populations are stable, although the numbers of this bird have declined due to habitat loss.
The Clapper Rail is a chicken-sized bird that rarely flies. It is grayish brown with a pale chestnut breast and a noticeable white patch under the tail. Its bill curves slightly downwards. The Trinidadian subspecies R. l. pelodromus is more heavily marked with black above.
The twig nest is placed low in mangrove roots, and 3-7 purple-spotted buff eggs are laid.
Some researchers believe that this bird and the similar King Rail are a single species; the two birds are known to interbreed.