Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Virginia Rail

On 20 May 2015, John Holden and I discovered a Virginia Rail at nearby Sprague Lake. These rails are common, but often hard to see, in local marshes. This individual was fearlessly guarding its territory from us. A rail is able to navigate through the reeds because of its laterally compressed body and flexible vertebrae. Perhaps because of these adaptations, Virginia Rails survive flightlessness during the late summer, when they simultaneously molt their wing and tail feathers (Conway 1995).

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