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Tonight I’m featuring an image of a bird that is not rare, but which is rarely seen. The bird is a Virginia Rail.
This is a softball-size wading bird that inhabits reed beds and marshlands. I, along with two friends, Carl Jackson and René Clark, encountered this individual yesterday at water’s edge of a lake in southeastern Arizona, about 50 miles from Tucson.
Virginia Rails are secretive birds. They spend their lives embedded in dense reeds or other riparian vegetation, sometimes only a few feet from the shoreline. Their secretive lifestyle makes them nearly invisible to prying humans, so seeing one sort of out in the open, as was the case with this bird, is a rare treat. When I say “sort of out in the open” I mean that the bird was fully or partially concealed nearly the entire time — about 15 minutes — we observed it. It finally appeared from a tangle of dense vegetation for about 15 seconds. Photographing it was quite tricky. The little rail was in very deep shade, giving us very little margin of error for getting a correct exposure.
Image made with a Canon 5Diii, 400 DO, aperture preferred setting, ISO 1600, f6.3 @ 1/500.