Monday, October 16

The Virginia Rail "kicker" call

The Virginia Rail "kicker" call is a rarely heard call apparently made by unmated females and usually heard only in spring. The call has a fascinating history, as the identity of the species making it was unknown for almost 70 years after its first description. The riddle was finally solved by George Reynard and his associates in 1967 and is documented here: http://dvoc.org/CassiniaOnLine/Cassinia50/C50_03_08.pdf.
I have only heard the vocalization twice, once several years ago in early June, and just recently, when I managed to obtain a recording. The calls were heard at a small cattail marsh in southeastern Pennsylvania shortly after dawn. A little unusual is the late date, mid-July. The vocalizations were spontaneous and went on for at least half an hour, until I left.
Of note, a similar call is made by female King and Clapper Rails.
(6.30am, mid-July, PA).



A one or two part churr without the introductory notes of the kicker call was also heard by the same bird.