Yellow Rail

One of Maine’s rarest breeding birds, the Yellow Rail is notoriously difficult to observe. It inhabits the margins of sedge dominant wetlands in the extreme northern portions of Maine. On its breeding grounds, the Yellow Rail silently skulks hidden among dense emergent vegetation by night. Breeding males give a repetitive, ticking “click-click, click-click- click” call only well after sunset. This call has been likened to the call of a spring peeper or an insect. This rail species constructs two nests: one for incubating and one for brooding young. Yellow Rail incubation nests are constructed of fine grasses and are covered with a canopy of vegetation. While incubating, female Yellow Rails rarely leave their nests and do so only to quickly eat. Within two days of hatching, the recently hatched chicks are moved to the brooding nest. Within 3 weeks of hatching, young Yellow Rails begin feeding themselves.

Safe Dates: June 1st to August 1st (applicable for only the S or H codes).

Breeding Codes: Breeding behaviors are only occasionally or rarely heard. All potential Yellow Rail breeding records should be carefully documented.

Image courtesy of Jim Scraff.

Audio courtesy of Peter Wilton.

© 2019 Logan Parker

The Maine Nightjar Monitoring Project is a part of the Maine Natural History Observatory