Rails are marsh birds that look quite chicken-like. While that’s true, I might as well have said they look like eagles, since most people will never see one to find out differently! They are secretive birds that hang out within dense vegetation in an environment difficult for people to get into.
All this is to say that when you get an especially good look at a rail, you should savor it. And that is exactly what I got while waiting for the Sapelo Island ferry last month during the Georgia Ornithological Society meeting. A group of birders were hanging out on the raised dock platform, watching a distant perched Bald Eagle, and a much closer Belted Kingfisher. But a motion in the marsh grasses right next to the dock caught my attention. Out walked this Clapper Rail.
I think this particular rail was either very confused, or just really needed some sun. It climbed to the top of a pile of dead grass in the middle of a small clearing about ten feet away from some incredulous birders.
And it stayed there for at least five minutes!
Finally, it was time to get back into the grass.
You hear about how thin rails are laterally, but this is the first time I’ve ever seen one from an angle that shows how skinny they really are.GOS Meeting, rails