Virginia Rail Grunting – Weekend Highlight

In my last post I ended by stating I’d use Wilson’s Snipe as an example of something I think is a bigger problem. That post isn’t ready yet but it will address the lack of fresh water marshes. Since I love marshes and I had Friday off, I headed to one of two I know locally. And I was rewarded with both a Sora calling and a Virginia Rail grunting.

Friday morning’s birding at Atterbury FWA was broken into two habitats, heavy woods and open grasslands walking to the marsh. Both areas are close together so in total I didn’t cover more than a mile in the whole morning.

The Woods

The woods produced several FOY species but little in the way of photos. Though I heard numerous Yellow-throated Warblers none where ever out in the open. The surprise of the day was a Nashville Warbler in the brush as I was viewing a White-throated Sparrow.

Blue-gray Gnatcatchers seemed to be every in the woods.
And Northern Parulas were calling all along the river road.

Has happens every year I forget the call of the Ruby-crowned Kinglet. Luckily more than one was calling so I got to hear it often.


To access the marsh one must walk along woods and through a grassland area.

The marsh is out there beyond the tall Sycamore.

After exiting the woods I was momentarily stymied by a call. A simple loud call from the grass. It took a minute but it finally dawned it was a Henslow’s Sparrow. On the day I would hear six in the area.

A usually secretive Henslow’s Sparrow was out calling on territory.

The Wetland – Virginia Rail Grunting

I needed to check the rails since the next few weekends will have early Turkey Season and the off road areas are closed until after 1PM. I have only heard a couple Virginia Rails at this marsh so I wasn’t hopeful.

The area I listen for rails is down and to the left, a couple hundred yards away.
Swamp Sparrows were great company while waiting to hear any rails call.

I arrived at the listening spot and played one Sora recording. Immediately a Sora replied with its descending call. And then it was time to wait. I have learned if a Virginia Rail is going to call it will take a few minutes after the recording. I learned this last year when they called as was leaving. Since then I wait 5-10 minutes and see what happens.

To capture the call I turned on the camera’s video/audio and waited. The following came at minute 6 of the recording, which shows how long it takes the Virginia Rail to respond. I was preparing to leave when I finally heard the call. So the static in the first few seconds are me preparing to walk.

Turn up your volume and listen. The Virginia Rail grunting starts at 8 seconds.

VIRA Atterbury

After lunch the temperature was approaching 80F and the birds were quieting down. A leisurely walk at Johnson County Park produced a couple of FOY birds.

virginia rail grunting
An Eastern Kingbird was a surprise. I thought they were still a week or so away from arriving.
Not a FOY but I liked the color on this American Kestrel.

2 Replies to “Virginia Rail Grunting – Weekend Highlight”

    1. Thanks. You are correct on that statement. There is a couple week period here when the males are declaring their territory they seem to be out in the open. I saw a couple more out but not at the range of the one in the photo.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *