Date: 9/7/17 5:38 pm From: Lee Schoenewe <lschoe...> Subject: [ia-bird] Black Rail lifer.....not!
On Labor Day I posted adding the Black Rail to my life list and my Dickinson County list. Today I am officially rescinding both of those designations. Although I am one of the last people on earth who is not on Bookface, I am privy to the photos Joe took and posted of what I now believe is the same dark rail I had a brief encounter with that day. Thank goodness for talented photographers and the evidence for further review their efforts provide. Good learning occurs for the curious and open-minded among us. I now know much more about Black Rail than I ever did and one day I will indeed find one most likely by hearing it. Reading from my Bent series books is always enlightening and the entries for rails were quite entertaining. At least we now have photos instead of lead shot for the study of birds.
I still do not know what the bird is that Joe photographed. The bird I saw did not have the size or beak of an immature (dark) Virginia Rail so that suggestion does not hold water for me. A melanistic Sora is my best guess with the white streaking instead of speckling on the back but my problem there is that the wings in the photos are not as long as I expect them to be for a Sora. A melanistic Yellow Rail would, I believe, still have white patches on the trailing edge of the wings so although the size, shape and wings would all be good that is out, too. In my search for discovery the best match I came up with was an Australian Spotted Crake! But, I am not going to count it as that either!
I will be documenting and am confident about the immature light phase Ferruginous Hawk, a beautiful bird. It is #301 for me for Dickinson County and that is a very respectable number. May all of you see a bird that you need to research and learn more about to be certain of your ID!