The further south you go, the earlier the birds nest. In late April we’re excited that Virginia rails (Rallus limicola) have just returned to Pennsylvania. In southern Arizona they already have families.
Steve Valasek found this out when he went looking for black rails (a very rare bird!) at Mittry Lake in Yuma County, Arizona on 23 April. He didn’t find a black rail but he did find tiny rails that were black.
When he spotted a Virginia rail out in the open he wondered, ” Why isn’t it hiding like they normally do?” In this slideshow of his photos you’ll find out why.
p.s. The Second Breeding Bird Atlas of Pennsylvania says the median egg date for Virginia rails in our state is 6 June. Since the eggs are incubated for 19 days and the chicks are precocial (they walk from the nest), the right time to see a Virginia Rail family in Pennsylvania would be early July. Good luck! They’re usually impossible to find.
(photos by Steve Valasek)