Monday, June 2, 2014

Virginia Rail

On 28 May 2014, John Holden and I checked out Swan Lake in nearby Nicollet County, Minnesota.  We listened for the Virginia Rail “grunt” call. Check it out if you have the Sibley Bird app on either your Android or iPhone. Out of the cattails, strolled two Virginia’s Rails. Note the long toes of the bird in the first photo.
These small rails are lovely creatures. One of our rails circled, fed, and occasionally grunted at us. The rails give back-and-forth, grunting duets during courtship. These are specialized calls used in pair bonding. 
Male Virginia Rails are larger than the females, but can not otherwise be told apart in the field. Virginia Rails are dietary generalists, eating much of what comes their way—invertebrates, small fish, and seeds.
In the last photo, the rail seemed to stick its tongue out at us. I am not sure what the object is toward the end of the tongue—an ant?  Or just some dirt?

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