Hubby found this recently deceased rail next to our driveway in late October. It's not at all the preferred method of adding a new bird species to the yard list.
The similar coloring on some rails can make them difficult to identify (for me, anyway), but I knew from the small size that this had to be a Virginia Rail (Rallus limicola).
If you're unfamiliar with birding guides, the width of the one in the picture just fits into hubby's back pocket. (Most everyone else has moved on to the newer-bigger-better guides, but Peterson's is still my favorite.)
We couldn't figure out what had killed this rail. There wasn't a mark on him. The species breeds in the north but migrates through our area to winter at the coast. They're a shy, secretive bird, not commonly seen, though as with all birds of this type there is always the chance that you can look back and see one crossing the road in broad daylight, in the area you've just left.
They are a marsh-type species, and I imagine this one was attracted to the cattail area near the drainage ditch.
The feathers are so beautiful.
Although I'm sad every time I find a dead bird, I always take the opportunity to take a closer look than I'd ever have with a live bird.
There were a few stray white feathers that entranced me.