Nebraska Ornithologists' Union


Date of this Version



"Notes," from Nebraska Bird Review (December 1987) 55(4).


Copyright 1987, Nebraska Ornithologists' Union. Used by permission.


YELLOW RAILS. On 21 September 1986, while conducting a waterfowl survey on the Jack Senn WMA, near Ceresco, Lancaster Co., I flushed a small rail-like bird, which flew a short distance before landing in heavy grass. Although its flight was very similar to the Virginia Rail and the Sora, which I was accustomed to seeing, the light color and white wing patches were very distinctive. Later I checked a field guide and found that the description most closely matching this bird was that of the very secretive Yellow Rail.

I had planned to do some rail and snipe hunting the next day, so the following morning I returned to the area with my brother and my springer spaniel. Within four hours we flushed approximately 12 rail and collected 5, 3 of these were Yellow Rails.

What I have found in subsequent outings in the marsh is that the Yellow Rails tend to be even more difficult to flush than the Virginia and Sora rails. Their flight distance is generally much shorter (10 to 15 yards) and in several instances when I observed them landing they immediately dove under the vegetation and began running. On several occasions when I saw the exact spot a bird landed I was unable to reflush it, even with the help of my dog.

During summer nest drag surveying of the area Sora and Virginia Rail were flushed on a regular basis, but it was only during a 2 to 3 week period in late summer that I saw Yellow Rails. I am assuming these were all migrating birds, and none nest in the area.

-Charles Lesick

PECTORAL SANDPIPERS. Eight Pectoral Sandpipers, coming into alternate plumage, were feeding in a roadside pool near Lowell, Kearney Co., 4 April 1987.

-Graham Chisholm