American Game Birds

Illustrating More Than One Hundred Species In Natural Colors

By Chester A. Reed

Page 27

VIRGINIA RAILS (Rallus virginianus) are in plumage almost perfect miniatures of King Rails, but they measure only 10 in. or less in length. They are more or less abundant in fresh-water marshes throughout the United States and southern Canada, breeding in the northern parts and wintering in the southern parts of their range. They live usually in dryer portions of grassy marshes than Soras commonly inhabit, and usually nest on the edges, making a small mound of grasses and flags upon which the eight to twelve buffy-white, brown-specked eggs are laid. The young, like those of all rails, are hatched covered with a jet-black down, leaving the nest and following their parent within a few hours after emerging from the eggs.


SORAS (Porzana Carolina), or Carolina Rails, are comparatively small, being only a trifle over 8 in. long. Immature birds have a white face and buff breast, while adults have a black face and blue-gray breast. Soras are the most abundant of our rails, breeding throughout the northern half of the United States and southern Canada and spending the winter in southern United States. Although of such small size, they are killed in almost countless numbers for the sake of the small but delicate morsels that their bodies afford.


YELLOW RAIL (Cotiirnkops noveboracensis). This is a diminutive species under 7 in. in length, inhabiting eastern North America, breeding in the northern states and Canada and wintering in the southern ones. So small and secretive as to be seldom observed.


BLACK RAIL (Creciscus jamaicensis). Tiniest of our rails; but 5 or 6 in. in length. Also found in eastern North America; replaced on the Pacific coast by the very similar Farallon Rail.