Chirps and Cheeps

A Photo Journal of My Birding Experiences & Observations

My birding blog site

  Virginia Rail and Gallinule Chicks

Published: July 17, 2014
Tags: General Observations, Virginia Rail, Common Gallinule, Least Bittern, Trumpeter Swan, Short-billed Dowitcher, Stilt Sandpiper, Lesser Yellowlegs, Greater Yellowlegs, Least Sandpipers, Caspian Tern, Black Tern, Bald Eagle, Northern Harrier, House Wren, Song Sparrow, Flying Squirrel

I went out to the Montezuma NWR area in Seneca Falls yesterday and enjoyed a couple of nice family sightings - one of nature's best offerings!

A family of Virginia Rails was out feeding in one of the marshes and I was amazed to see their chicks. And who would have guessed: they were all black!  Those six, cute, little, black balls of fluff were so very different looking than their brown, gray, and orange-billed parents.  The little ones either followed the adults around, poking in the algae or, when the parents wandered to forage, they stayed grouped together in an opening at the edge of the reeds. Perhaps this was their nest area; I couldn't tell from where I was.

A little later, I saw a similar family group, but this time they were Common Gallinules. Check out the chicks' feet; they're already huge!  I can't imagine learning to walk on those giant clodhoppers!

While I was watching these families with fascination, two Least Bitterns gave me fly-bys. Unfortunately, I wasn't quick enough with the camera to capture them, but I still enjoyed seeing these birds.

A little later, after meeting up with Pat Martin and Steve Taylor, we viewed several Short-billed Dowitchers, 5 Stilt Sandpipers, 7 young Bald Eagles, over 150 Least Sandpipers, around 175 Lesser Yellowlegs, 10 Greater Yellowlegs, 18 Caspian Terns, 9 Black Terns, a Northern Harrier, and a couple of Trumpeter Swans. Steve told us that there were at least 3 pairs of swans who bred there this spring. And thanks to, Steve, for his assistance on ID'ing and learning more about the Stilt Sandpipers. Seeing them next to the many yellowlegs and dowitchers, which they are described as being a "blend of", we soon began to recognize them and tell them apart from the other sandpipers.

After this, I went up to Wayne County but didn't find the Red-headed Woodpeckers that were reported. I saw a young couple searching for a Golden-winged Warbler that they had heard about, but neither of us found that bird either. While I was there, I did happen upon a House Wren's nest. S/he didn't seem too thrilled with my presence, so I quickly grabbed a few photos of the irritated wren and left. I wanted to explain that building a nest inside the gate tubing is not a good idea!

As always, it was a day of hits and misses, which keeps things exciting!

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Virginia Rail and chicks

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The whole family

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Virginia Rails

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All of the chicks together

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Common Gallinule and chicks

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Common Gallinule and chicks

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The angry House Wren

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House Wren

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When a Song Sparrow sets down and poses for you, you just HAVE to take his picture!

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Flying Squirrel at home helping himself to the bird food!

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Super cute!

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We've seen as many as five at a time - and ohhhh, are they FAST!

Reply from: Steve taylor on 7/17/2014 11:35 AM
 Hi Sue, it was great seeing you yesterday at MNWR and enjoying the shorebirds together. I enjoy your chirps and cheeps website. Your pictures are fantastic. One note....the birds you have labeled as coots are actually Common Gallinules! Great photo ops with the family gatherings! Steve Taylor
Reply from: Sue on 7/17/2014 3:05 PM
 Oh gosh, Steve; you're right! And I KNEW I was going to do that before I did it! I kept having to correct myself and STILL I wrote it wrong! Haha! Thanks for the correction; I'm editing the captions now! Take care and hope to see you out there again!
Reply from: Marty Sanden on 7/17/2014 8:26 PM
 Great photos. The Gallinule chicks remind me of a tiny one my wife and I saw on a stone bridge crossing a canal in Brugges, Belgium three years ago. It appeared confused before jumping off the bridge into the canal and swam headon past a small boat full of tourists. Fearing the chick's demise, we yelled, but the boat's captain and the tourists appeared oblivious, probably not noticing this tiny creature as their boat slid by it.
Reply from: Kris Constable on 7/18/2014 7:33 AM
 Great pictures! How did you get the photos of the flying squirrels? Did you use a motion-sensitive camera?
Reply from: Pamela Righter on 7/18/2014 9:20 AM
 Hi Sue, Your photos are amazing. Thank you for sharing such wonderful moments in the field. I have not seen a flying squirrel since I was a child.
Reply from: Sue on 7/18/2014 9:53 AM
 Thanks, all! Marty, I hope that chick made it to safety! And Kris, no, I had to manually focus my camera because it was so dark out and used a flash.

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