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Yellow Rails


Mid-October through November

Yellow Rails are small very secretive rails and are not as easily flushed as other rail species. They never venture into the open to feed like Sora or King and Clapper rails. Yellow Rails breed across central and eastern Canada and northeastern United States in marshes or wet meadows. They winter south along the Gulf coast and are rarely seen or heard. However, during the second rice harvest in mid October, it is fairly easy to see Yellow Rails as they are flushed by rice combines. Depending on your distance from a working combine and patience, several Yellow Rails can be observed in a day. Occasionally they will even land where you might run up and see them crouched - the rail relying on its cryptic plumage to camouflage its presence.

Other birds flushed from the fields can include American Bittern, King, Sora, and Virginia rails, Savannah and LeConte’s sparrows, and Red-winged Blackbird. Great and Cattle egrets usually feed on animals or insects stirred or chopped up by the combines.

Be courteous to combine drivers and do not trespass to get better views unless you are invited to do so.