April 11, 2011
"Kidick. . . kidick. . . kidick" [silence] "Kick-kick-kick MAGREEEEER!"
These are just some of the fun calls and sounds you may here from the depths of the rushes on the Refuge and nope, they are not made by a frog or an insect. . . but from a "thin-as-a-rail" Virginia Rail! In recent days, these very secretive marshbirds have begun returning to the wetlands of the Refuge where many may stay and nest and breed. And - as secretive as rails are (we also have Sora which can be heard "whinnying" from the wetlands) the Virginia rails are especially vocal. They also have a loud "chuck, chuck , chuck, chuck, chuck" communication call..as well as many other notes and chips they can make to young. And - if you here one - and another is in hearing distance, you may hear several of the little rusty birds talking back to each other.
The Refuge wetlands are prime habitat for VIRA (the 4-letter banding code for VIrginia RAil), providing prime nesting areas and materials...as they prefer to feed and nest in freshwater wetlands with thick cattail and bulrush type vegetation. Also - the abundance of food including beetles, acquatic larvae, snails and crustaceans and bulrush and spikerush seeds - make the Bear River delta especially rich for the rails. Refuge Biologist, Howard Browers, reported several returning rails were calling on the Refuge on April 10.
So, if you're out visiting the Refuge Auto Loop from now until the early Fall, feel free to look for these adorable little wetland wonders, but don't be surprised if you don't see them . . . but definitely listen for them to tell you hello from under the depths of the vegetation with a guttaral and gutsy "Kick-kick-kick MAGREEEEER!"