Clarence Cannon National Wildlife Refuge, North of St. Louis along the Mississippi River, is famous for its King Rails. In July females lead their chicks out in the open to feed, and so these normally elusive birds are relatively easy to see. I have wanted to visit the refuge to see the rails for some years now, and finally the encouraging posts on the internet from St. Louis birders pushed me over the edge and I went to the refuge on July 13, 2010. I was lucky to meet some of these individuals in person as well as to see and film the rails.
The King Rail is the largest North American Rail and was first described by John James Audubon. These are primarily fresh-water birds, whereas their close relative, the Clapper Rail, occurs mainly in salt marshes. Their range is centered along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts, but they are found in scattered places throughout the Midwest and East.