Virginia Rails are secretive marsh birds that can be found at the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge during the breeding season and the can be very difficult to see let alone photograph. Usually when I do see them they are gone before I can raise my lens and focus on them. To see the rails at Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge one needs to drive the auto tour route slowly or be in a stationary position near habitat suitable for their needs and when they are seen there are times when you’ll need patience to see if they will come out into the open. The blend into their habitat very easily and more people hear them than see them.
These rails need shallow water and mudflats within the marshes for the habitat to be suitable. They feed on small fish and invertebrates that they find by probing with their bill.
Virginia Rails are migratory but some range maps show a few locations in Utah where they can be found year round. Climate change may of course change that.
Earlier in August on the way to the auto tour route before the sun had risen completely over the mountains I spotted what I thought might be a nighthawk resting on a fence post that turned out to be a dead Virginia Rail. I am fairly certain that it did not die on the fence post and that someone may have put the rail on the fence instead of leaving it in the road. If so, they have my respect.
Before long the Virginia Rails and Soras (their close relative) will be heading south to their wintering grounds so if you would like to see them here in Utah head out to Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge soon!
Life is good.