Today at work we received a call regarding a mystery bird. The caller couldn’t see the legs, or the feet. When this happens, we play guess the bird. It generally involves some level of charades as the office tries to suggest questions to ask while one of us corresponds with the caller.
This bird was a pigeon-sized bird with a long, down-turned beak. It wasn’t an Owl or a Hawk according to the caller. Flummoxed, we had another employee running errands in the neighborhood, so he stopped over and snapped two photos. One went to the Education Director, and the second to me. Despite the wealth of knowledge at our finger tips, we were perplexed. We sent the photo out to some bird experts at an unnamed bird organization.
My colleague judged the bird in sound health, just resting along its migratory path in the middle of downtown Tenafly.
After work, I stopped by to see if the bird was there. It was dark, but I found the bird still hanging out on the sidewalk across from 7-Eleven. The photo above and the follow photo are the ones I acquired. (Considering what light I had to work with, I am happy with the results! I must say I felt simultaneously professional and ridiculous as I lay flat on the sidewalk to minimize any shaking of the camera in the poor light. Lots of weird looks from passerbys but one lovely conversation with the woman who was parked inches from the bird.)
The bird organization we sent the original photo (pictured below) did some consultation and came back with the identification of King Rail. After seeing the bird myself, I disagree with the assessment and am inclined go with the significantly smaller Virginia Rail. However, before I submit it to ebird as anything definite, I’m posting it here. It just doesn’t look like a 15 inch bird.