In the field, the brief views I was fortunate enough to get suggested to me this was a Virginia Rail. The Virginia is only about half the size of the King and this obvious difference should usually make the identification quite easy. Unfortunately my brief, distant and mostly obscured view of this bird did not allow me to get a good estimate on the bird’s size. Once back home with the photo and field guides open I began to doubt my original ID call. I listed as many reasons to feel KIRA as VIRA. I quickly realized I needed help and rushed the photo and my thoughts to the three wise men of the birding community I knew would love the challenge. The single photo was less than the smoking gun I was hoping it was. All three agreed it was most-likely a King Rail, but there is still room for doubt. Although a photo of a Virginia Rail would have added a new species to my bird-photo-life-list it always makes me happy to find and watch a bird of conservation concern, as is the King.
You can see in this “bird in habitat” photo just the sort of habitat that rails and other waders need. Rails love to be in water about up to their knees with plenty of vegetation to use for cover. Most shorebirds like the mud, while larger waterfowl, obviously like a little more water. Heron Pond at RMBS is being managed to provide the habitat these groups of birds need. Check out a few images of young KIRA I took a while ago.