Monday, January 27, 2014

Mendon Ponds Park • January 27

Virginia Rail. What's a summertime bird in Rochester still doing here in the heart of winter?! Well, in many migratory species, a few individuals each winter try to overwinter rather than make the journey south.

Virginia Rail. Hey! Doesn't it know that the water is just a couple degrees from freezing?

Virginia Rail. If the rail can find open fresh water so that it can feed on the vegetation underneath, it will do just fine. Now that Quaker Pond has frozen over due to the exception cold snap, the only open water left in the immediate region is this little trickle of a feeder stream to the pond. So, this is where the rail must come to eat.

Virginia Rail. Virginia Rails are rare winter visitants to our area. However, since the small pond on the other side of the trail from this stream is named Rail Pond, if one is to be found, this area is a good bet!

Virginia Rail. This species is secretive, more often heard than seen. It is a game bird in New York State, though Cornell's Birds of North America says there is little interest from hunters in this particular species. As a result of all of this, we know surprisingly little about Virginia Rails.

Virginia Rail. This is probably the best way to see this elusive species, before Quaker Pond thaws and the bird returns to hiding along the shore of that much bigger body of water!