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The rail family (Rallidae) in North America is made up of ten different birds: six species of rails, soras which are also called Carolina rails, American coots and two gallinules.
I saw my first sora in January 2006 along the Black Point Wildlife Drive in the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge. Two years later I also saw and photographed a sora there during a photography workshop lead by Kevin Doxstater during the Space Coast Birding Festival. Just last year I saw and photographed a sora at Sweetwater Wetlands Park in Gainesville during a Birds of a Feather Fest field trip that I co-lead with Greg Miller (of The Big Year). This February I again had the pleasure of co-leading a Birds of a Feather Fest field trip with Greg Miller, this time to Merritt Island NWR.
Soras can be found in marshes throughout Florida in the winter. The non-breeding range also includes the southern coasts of the United States, the Caribbean, Mexico and Central America. Breeding range (April-July) spans much of the lower half of Canada, the northern United States plus the western mountain states south into Arizona and New Mexico. Migration includes all those states in between breeding and non-breeding.
Sora at Sweetwater Wetlands Park.
Another bird that I saw and photographed at Merritt Island the same day I first saw the sora was a clapper rail (Rallus crepitans). Clapper rails are one of two large rails found in Florida, the other being the slightly larger king rail, which I have yet to see. Clapper rails can be found year-round in mangrove swamps and saltwater marshes along the east coast of the United States, Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean.
Clapper Rail demonstrating why it is handy to be "thin as a rail".
The most common, widest ranging and easiest to see member of the rail family is the American Coot. Coots are found in all types of freshwater wetlands year-round throughout much of the Florida peninsula and in the Florida panhandle during the winter. The range includes most of the United States, year-round or winter in the southern states, extending into the midwest and Canada during the summer.
American coot swimming at Lake Woodruff National Wildlife Refuge.
Until recently usually called the common moorhen, the common, or Florida gallinule is the more widespread and more frequently seen of the gallinules in Florida. This ia a common bird that looks similar to coots and found in freshwater and brackish marshes, ponds, lakes and canals year-round throughout the state. The year-round range of Gallinula chloropus includes much of Mexico and the southeastern gulf coast up into North Carolina and also isolated areas of the southwestern United States. American coots migrate and breed throughout much of the eastern United States up to the southern Great Lakes.
Common Gallinules at Sweetwater Wetlands Park.
Less common and less widespread is the purple gallinule. Porphyrio martinica are tropical marsh birds that are year-round residents of peninsular Florida, Brazil, northern areas of South America, and parts of Mexico. In the summer spreads out along the southeast United States coast from South Carolina to Mississippi, most of Louisiana and eastern Texas then winters throughout much of Central America.
Purple Gallinule preening a chick.
You can read more about Soras, Rails, Coots and Gallinules at the Paul Rebmann Nature Photography blog.
This Saturday, March 24 from 9am to 3pm, Paul Rebmann Nature Photography will be at the Florida Wildflower & Garden Festival in downtown DeLand. Various size and format photo prints, greeting cards and other items with images from nature will be available in the Wild Florida Photo tent on West Indiana Ave. This annual one day event will feature Florida wildlife presentations, environmental displays, kids' activities, and guided hikes and eco-buggy tours of Lyonia Preserve. An early-bird hike will kick off the day at 8 a.m.
Paul Rebmann will be presenting Wildflowers & Pollinators at the April meeting of the Halifax River Audubon Society, Monday April 16 at 7pm in Sica Hall, Holly Hill, FL.
One of the marvels of nature is the symbiotic relationship - where both parties benefit - between wildflowers and pollinators. When pollinators are mentioned, the first thing that probably comes tomind are bees, or possibly butterflies. What many people may not realize is the large diversity of species that are helping to pollinate our plants, whether in the wild, in landscapes or on farms. And the plants, particularly natives that help feed the pollinators that also go on to pollinate the plants that feed us. Wildflowers and Pollinators features information, photos and even a few videos, including stages of the life cycles of the spiderling plume moth and gulf fritillary butterfly.
Contact the photographer (see below) if your group may be interested in seeing this presentation on the symbiotic relationship between wildflowers and a variety of pollinators.
For details on these and other events, visit the Wild Florida Photo events page.
Throw pillows are available in sizes ranging from 14"x14" to 26"x26".
Purchase Talbot Island Stilt Tree #2 beach towel
These spiral notebooks would be ideal for keeping nature journals.
Purchase Grasspink #1 spiral notebook
Tuberous grasspink, Calopogon tuberosus var. tuberosus
To see a selection of images that I think will look best on yoga mats, visit www.wildflphoto.com/yoga
Check out all of the images and for wall art and other products at paul-rebmann.pixels.com
The current Wild Florida Photo feature is
Other recent featured photos at Wild Florida Photo include Blue Mistflower, Queen butterfly, White Passionflower, Pollardii Cactus, American Coot and Fluted Bird's Nest fungi.
Note that there was no February 2018 newsletter.
Thank you, and I hope that you enjoy my photography.
Wild Florida Photo
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