I realized I was remiss in not pointing out that Mary Wright is right again; the bird shown in last week’s post was a Clapper Rail. Clapper Rails are chicken-sized denizens of saltmarshes, feeding mainly on crustaceans. While many of their west coast populations are classified as endangered, our east coast birds appear to be doing reasonably well. They are a challenge to study as they lurk in dense grasses and do not tend to make themselves obvious. The species tends to be rather sedentary in that most breed and overwinter in the same region. The exception are the birds that nest in southern New England and the mid-Atlantic. Massachusetts is essentially the northern limit of their breeding range, and northern birds typically migrate south for the winter. (Unlike their southern cousins who live a cushy life year-round and are not subjected to the vicissitudes of New England weather–not that your blogger is cranky about that.) So for this time of year in particular, this is an unusual find. Nice work as usual, Ashley!
In other dead bird news a bit farther north, Gary Roberts who Seanets on Peaks Island in Portland, ME, found a headless American Black Duck last month. The bird was banded, and Gary reported the band to the government. He received a report on the bird, stating that it was a male, banded on August 21, 2004, in Albert, New Brunswick, Canada. The bird was hatched in 2003 or earlier.
Seanetters should be proud to find and report banded birds to USFWS; generally they get these reports almost exclusively from hunters, so keep doing your part out there!