Yellow rail is unlikely—and most spring sightings in our area are in wet prairies and earlier in the spring. Sora is consistent with your description (yes, the bill is yellow in breeding condition), and also has the distinction of being far and away the most common rail during migration in Missouri.


----Bill Eddleman, Cape Girardeau


From: Missouri Wild Bird Forum [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Ben Solomon
Sent: Saturday, April 10, 2010 11:45 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Busch CA - Woodcocks and possible Yellow Rail?


Thanks to everyone who responded to my earlier question about the Woodcocks. I was able to get out to Busch CA this evening around 7pm and was able to track down a woodcock of my own in an overgrown meadow/marsh near one of the larger ponds. While he never let me get close enough to see him peenting on the ground, I was able to see him whenever he shot up and twirled back down. I would have liked a better view but this was excellent.

Anyhow, it was about 9pm and quite dark when I started trudging through the meadow back to my car. At one point, I took a step and I heard something rustling right next to my leg. When I got my flashlight on the source of the noise I saw what may have been a yellow rail purposefully scampering away from me. The bird ran about 3' away from me and paused for a moment before continuing into the brush. I've never seen a yellow rail before but here's what leads me to suspect it:

- About the size of a larger song bird (e.g. meadowlark or cardinal) but plumper
- Short bill with a stubby point, distinctly yellow
- Dark back with what appeared like white speckles, fading to lighter belly and malar/throat region (sorry, i didn't get a good look at the coloration due to the lighting)
- Even though I was within less than 3 feet, it never flushed, instead choosing to quietly walk away through the tall grass and reeds. Movement not clumsy and no hopping.
- Habitat seems like something a rail would like: tall thick grasses and reeds, moist ground, near a large pond

Anyhow, with that description, I defer to the experts for their opinion as to whether this is a plausible sighting. And in case anyone is interested, the meadow/marsh location was at lake 6 in the north-western quadrant created by the 4-way intersection directly east of the lake.

Other highlights include a couple barred owls, 5 sparrow species (including my FOY chipping sparrow), and a nice flock of bluebirds


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