Friday, November 10, 2006

Not the preferred method

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.

11 comments:

happy and blue 2 said...

Nice pictures. Maybe it died of West Nile virus..Hope you washed your hands after touching it, ha,ha..

robin andrea said...

What a beautiful bird. We saw a Virginia Rail here in the northwest last year. They are quite elusive, but I did see one in the same area just a few weeks ago. I can't imagine how that one came to an end like that next to your driveway. I wonder if any vets in your area would be willing to do some kind of tests to see.

pablo said...

Coincidentally, I think I saw a rail at the pond in my woods. I nearly stepped on it before it flushed and flew to the cattails on the other side of the pond. The shape and size, and especially the bill, matched what you display here. I knew they occurred in Missouri, but I didn't expect to see one. I have that same Peterson's guide, and it certainly still works for me.

Pamela said...

I've never seen a Virginia Rail--didn't realize how small they are, on top of the difficulty of seeing marsh birds anyway. Sad to find one dead, but still a good find. That was a beautiful bird.

Floridacracker said...

Probably car bumped.

We have clapper rails (marsh hens) down here and they would much rather run through the marsh than fly when approached.

Cathy said...

How sad. How beautiful. I know your rail didn't hit a window, but it reminds me that the best looks I've had at local birds were due to window strikes. My neighbors roll their eyes at the garish tinsel garland I've strung behind each window pane. I rarely hear that thud anymore that always made my heart shrink.

Rachel said...

Too bad about the birds. Sometimes I have found a dead bird in our yard with no clue as to why it died.

Rhea said...

What a pretty bird.

Clare said...

There is something incredibly beautiful about feather's and the way they flow and shimmer. Perhaps the one white feather is like Van Gogh's one white Iris.

I've never seen any of the rails or crakes. Sora rail? no but I've heard them.

And I'm with you on Peterson's. It is like an old friend.

Rurality said...

I suppose it is possible that it was bumped by a car and then wandered down our driveway before expiring...

RA, if the vets laugh when I mention bringing in a chicken, I just know they're not going to appreciate a wild bird.

Clare, I really wish I'd thought of that Iris reference when writing this post. :) Oh and thanks for the corny joke! I will have to pull that out the next time someone says, "Willit or won't it"!

meresy_g said...

I've never seen a rail. Thanks for the close up look. Poor little bird. At least he was used to educate.