Birds in the family Rallidae, or rails, are notoriously secretive. They live and breed in wetlands, a habitat which is difficult to bird. Scientists and hunters who frequent the marshes during fall migration tell me they are numerous. So why are they so hard for birders to see?
|King Rail at Glacier Ridge, photo by Bruce Miller.
|BSBO's Mark Shieldcastle with King and Virginia Rails in hand.
Photo by Hugh Rose.
The best way for a birder to see more rails, is to support the scientific endeavors to study them. Black Swamp Bird Observatory has been conducting studies on rails in the Lake Erie Marsh for many years. Biologist Mark Shieldcastle will be telling the story of BSBO's study during the Fall "Rally for Rails" being held in Lakeside.
King Rail outfitted with transponder. Photo courtesy of Winous Point.
A very large King Rail study has been going on at Winous Point Marsh Conservancy. Transmitters have been attached to King Rails to help scientists better understand their migratory movements, life history- and possibly shed light on the sheer numbers of their population.
|This Virginia Rail was a re-capture, already outfitted with a transmitter.
|John Simpson examines a recently captured Sora.
|A closer look at the Sora.
|Oliver Cornet and Brendan Shirkey gently fit a harness on the Sora.
|Brendan adjusts the harness for comfort.
Special funds generated by this program for the conservation and study of rails will be directly applied to programs designed to conserve these wonderfully secretive birds.