Virginia Rail Eating Fish Head

by Bryce W. Robinson

Last week I was birding with Caitlin Davis and Heidi Ware in a local hotspot. It was a clear and crisp day, following a few days of inclement weather that dumped an uncommon amount of snow on western Idaho. All of the still bodies of water were frozen. This weather was prime for sparrow chasing, but in wetland areas such as this, we were also keen on good glimpses at a hardy rail species, the Virginia Rail. Heidi quickly spotted a rail at the first reedy area we came upon. Immediately we recognized its strange behavior. It sat on the ice at the reed edge, next to what appeared to be a frozen fish head. We watched, and soon the rail began picking at the head of the fish. I quickly set my camera to video mode and began filming. I captured an interesting insight into the life of these rails during the harsh winter months. This bird was eating dead flesh, illustrating the need to diversify your food choices during trying conditions. Behavior birding; even when there isn’t much out, there is always knowledge to be gained.