An Imperial Beach Hidden Gem and Bird of the Week, Bryan Brillhart Photography present the “Dig IB” Bird of the Week, the Ridgeway's Rail
Bryan Brillhart of Bryan Brillhart Photography presents us with the Dig Imperial Beach “Bird of the Week”. The column will provide a picture of a bird(s) locally photographed and we will have background on the bird.
This week’s bird is the Ridgway's Rail
Ridgway's Rail (Rallus obsoletus), formerly known as the Clapper rail, is another endangered species of bird in our own, Tijuana Estuary. A member of the rail family, Rallidae, it is a chicken-sized bird that rarely flies.
Ridgway's rail forages at the upper end of, along the ecotone between mudflat and higher vegetated zones, and in tidal sloughs. Mussels, clams, arthropods, snails, worm, and small fish are its preferred foods, which it retrieves by probing and scavenging the surface while walking. The bird will only forage on mudflats or very shallow water where there is taller plant material nearby to provide protection at high tide. At such high tides it may also prey upon mice, and has been known to cavage dead fish.
For cover, Ridgway's rail seeks out emergent wetland dominated by pickleweed and cordgrass, or brackish emergent wetland with those two plants plus bulrush. It is not clear whether it requires any source of fresh water. Although not migratory in coastal wetlands, this species disperses juveniles into freshwater wetlands in late August through October.
This elusive bird can be best seen at low tides, and is a joy to get a glimpse of.