Monday, February 17, 2014

A Rare Sight: The California Clapper Rail

A California Clapper Rail, Rallus longirostris obsoletus (longirostris referring to its long beak), coming out of the water after a brief splash bath.  I have been hoping to see one of these for some years; however, they are elusive little birds.  Basically, the drill works like this.  The bird runs out of the dense, tall grass and into the open water; splashes about and thoroughly cleans itself off; gets up; runs out of the water and back into the dense grass.  No wonder I've never seen one before.  You have to be waiting there for it to pop out into the open at just the right moment.  Although they live on crustaceans, aquatic insects and small fish, there appears to be plenty enough of these within the cover of the tall grass.  At any rate, due to habitat loss (read that as multimillion dollar houses along the ocean), there are now only around 1000-1500 California Clapper rails left.  I consider myself pretty lucky to have seen one.

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