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COSEWIC Assessment and Status Report on the Yellow Rail in Canada


The preparation of this status report was made possible with the support of the Canadian Wildlife Service (Headquarters and Quebec Region), Environment Canada and Parks Canada.

Michel Melançon (Canadian Wildlife Service, Québec) graciously accepted to produce the figures. The following people provided information for their jurisdiction:


Michel Gosselin (Canadian Museum of Nature), Steve Wendt (Canadian Wildlife Service), Howard Powells (Fisheries and Oceans Canada), Jon McCracken (Long Point Bird Observatory).


Manfred Hoefs (Yukon Renewable Resources)

Northwest Territories

Bob Bromley, Suzanne Carrière, Lisette Self (Northwest Territories Resources, Wildlife and Economic Development), Vicky Johnston (Canadian Wildlife Service), Nigel Caulkett.

British Columbia

Wayne Campbell (British Columbia Ministry of Environment, Lands and Parks), Syd Cannings (British Columbia Conservation Data Centre).


Brett Calverley (coordinator of the North American Waterfowl Management Plan for Alberta), Tom Sadler (Ducks Unlimited Canada), Gavin More, John Rintoul (Alberta Natural Heritage Information Centre), Wayne Smith (Environmental Consultant), Steve Brechtel, George Hamilton, Dave Hervieux, Dave Moyles (Alberta Environmental Protection), Lynn Vogt (Alberta bird record compiler for Audubon Field Notes).


Jeff Keith (Saskatchewan Conservation Data Centre), Al Smith (Canadian Wildlife Service), Bob Macfarlane (Ducks Unlimited Canada), Mary Houston.


François Blouin, Jim Duncan (Manitoba Conservation Data Centre), Ron Larche, Bob Nero (Manitoba Department of Natural Resources), Rudolph Koes and Peter Taylor (Manitoba Avian Research Committee and Co-editors for Audubon Field Notes of Prairie Provinces Region), Duane Hudd (Ducks Unlimited Canada), Cheri Gratto-Trevor (Canadian Wildlife Service), Robert Rockwell (American Museum of Natural History).


Ken Abraham, Irene Bowman, David Hussell (Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources), Ross James (former COSEWIC Bird Sub-committee co-Chair), Mike Cadman, Ken Ross (Canadian Wildlife Service), Erling Armson, Joël Ingram (Ducks Unlimited Canada), George Van Drunen (Natural Heritage Information Centre), Ron Ridout (Long Point Bird Observatory), Ross Harris (LGL Limited), David Elder, Theo Hofmann, Jean Iron (Ontario Field Ornithologists), Bruce Di Labio (Ottawa Field-Naturalists), Gerry Bennett, Judy Jones.


Pierre Aquin (Ministère de l’Environnement et de la Faune), Serge Labonté, François Shaffer (Canadian Wildlife Service), Jean-Pierre Laniel (Canards Illimité Canada), Pierre Poulin (Club des ornithologues de la Gaspésie), Germain Savard (Club des ornithologues amateurs du Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean), Robert Décarie (Canadian Pulp and Paper Association), Réjean Deschênes (Université du Québec à Montréal), Father C. Larose.

New Brunswick

Kevin Connor and Mike Sullivan (New Brunswick Natural Resources and Energy), Stefen Gerriets (Atlantic Canada Conservation Data Centre), Graham Forbes (University of New Brunswick), Pat Kehoe (formerly with the Department of Natural Resources and Energy, now with Ducks Unlimited Canada in Alberta), Stuart Tingley.

Nova Scotia

Mark Elderkin (Department of Natural Resources).

Prince Edward Island

Rosemary Curley (Department of Fisheries and Environment).


Joe Brazil, Tammy Joyce (Department of Forest Resources and Agrifoods), William A. Montevecchi (Memorial University).

United States

Bill Eddleman (Southeast Missouri State University), Ted Bookout (retired from U.S. Department of the Interior), Carrie Brugger, Larry Master (The Nature Conservancy), J. Serie (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service), Joe Jehl (Smithsonian Institution), P. Lehman, C. Elphick, Stephanie Jones (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Colorado), Mike Legare (Kennedy Space Center).


John Fleckenstein (Washington Natural Heritage Program).


K. Popper, M. Stern (Oregon Natural Heritage Program ).


Darlene McGriff (California Natural Heritage Division).


Chuck Harris (Idaho Department of Fish and Game).


Paul Hendricks (Montana Natural Heritage Program).


Mary Neighbours (Wyoming Natural Diversity Database), Darwin Wile.

South Dakota

Eileen Dowd Stukel (South Dakota Natural Heritage Data Base).


Rich Baker (Minnesota Department of Natural Resources).


Bill Smith (Wisconsin Natural Heritage Program), Summer Matteson (Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources).


Jim Herkert (Illinois Endangered Species Protection Board).


Richard Urbanek (Seney Wildlife Refuge), Janet Hayward, John Legge (Michigan Natural Features Inventory).


Patricia Jones (Ohio Natural Heritage Database).


Thomas Hodgman (Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife).


Carroll Cordes (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service).


Dorinda Scott (Texas Biological and Conservation Data System), Keith Arnold, Kelly Mizell, Doug Slack (Texas A&M University).


Jan Johnson (Alabama Natural Heritage Program).


Katy Nesmith (Florida Natural Areas Inventory).

South Carolina

John Cely (Department of Natural Resources Sandhills Research and Education Center), Michelle Taylor (South Carolina Heritage Trust).

North Carolina

Harold Legrand (north carolina heritage program).

Biographical Summary of the Authors

Rob Alvo, a consulting conservation biologist, obtained his Master’s degree at Trent University in 1985. This is his eighth COSEWIC status report. He wrote a national status report on 20 animal species inhabiting Canada’s forests, numerous species and family accounts in the atlas "The Breeding Birds of Québec", seven papers in refereed journals, and six magazine articles. He established Canada’s first Conservation Data Centre, in Québec. He was a Webster Fellow at Delta Waterfowl and Wetlands Research Station. Field-work has been mostly on birds, amphibians and insects. Current work includes a long-term investigation of loon breeding success in relation to lake acidity initiated in 1982, expeditions to find rare dragonflies in Québec and Ontario, a feasibility study on the development of a Canadian vegetation classification, national conservation ranking of Canadian vertebrates, an analysis of threats to and habitat needs of COSEWIC species, and the development of plant and animal species lists for all Canadian national parks.

Michel Robert completed his B.Sc. and M.Sc. at the Université de Montréal, where his thesis dealt with the night feeding habits of shorebirds wintering in Venezuela. Since then he has worked on a variety of projects as an ornithologist, first as a consultant (1986-1995), now as an employee of the Canadian Wildlife Service (since 1995). Most of his work has focused on rare and endangered birds in Québec, such as the Wild Turkey and the Loggerhead Shrike. In 1989, he produced the technical report, "The Threatened Birds of Québec", a comprehensive status determination of all the birds of Québec. From 1993 to 1996, he studied Yellow Rails in southern Québec, particularly along the St. Lawrence River corridor, and developed techniques to survey, band, and radio-track this secretive species, as well as characterize its nesting habitat. He develops and coordinates conservation and research projects for rare and endangered birds for the Canadian Wildlife Service, in Sainte-Foy. He is currently coordinating a study on the eastern population of the Barrow's Goldeneye and is collaborating in a research project on Harlequin Ducks. Michel has authored 13 technical reports, 8 scientific papers, and 15 magazine articles. He is the (volunteer) director of the ornithological quarterly "QuébecOiseaux".

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