King Rails (Rallus elegans) are a secretive marshbird often separated for management purposes into resident and migratory populations. The objective of this research was to gain a better understanding of where Midwest King Rails migrate and winter. Satellite transmitters were placed on nine King Rails captured in Ohio (USA). Autumn migration data was available for four individuals and spring migration data for two individuals. Autumn migration was completed in ≤ 5 days. During autumn migration, three individuals migrated from Ohio to the Gulf Coast, and one individual migrated from Pennsylvania to the southern Atlantic coast. Spring migration lasted longer and had more stopovers than autumn migration. During spring, one individual migrated from Louisiana to Indiana, and one individual migrated from Georgia to Louisiana, indicating likely immigration and emigration between coastal resident and Midwest King Rail populations. Departure dates from the breeding range varied from 30 August to 20 October and spring arrival date to the Upper Midwest was 20 April. All four of the individuals monitored were exposed to potential harvest while on the wintering range. We recommend continued satellite marking of the migratory population across their breeding range to improve understanding of the annual lifecycle of King Rail.
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Vol. 42 • No. 2