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Yellow Rail

A small, elusive bird species that inhabits freshwater marshes and wetlands across North America, and is known for its yellowish-brown plumage and distinctive, high-pitched calls.

The tiny, reclusive Yellow Rail breeds, migrates, or winters over large portions of North America, but its habitats and secrecy make it very difficult to see. Recoveries of Yellow Rails killed by tower collisions suggest that their migrations are nocturnal.

Appearing clumsy in flight with dangling legs, Yellow Rails more often run through dense vegetation than fly to flee an intruder. While they can swim, it is not thought that they do so very often. Males do not seem to return to the same breeding territories in subsequent years, but that question for females remains unanswered.

Photographs © Greg Lavaty

Description of the Yellow Rail


The Yellow Rail is a small rail with upperparts forming a pattern of tawny, black, and white, and buffy yellowish underparts. Its bill is short and thick, and ranges from yellowish to gray in color.


Sexes similar.

Seasonal change in appearance



Juveniles have extensive white speckling above and below.


Grassy marshes.


Insects, seeds, and snails.


Forages from the surface of the ground or water.


Breeds in parts of Canada and the northern U.S. and winters along the southern Atlantic Coast.

Fun Facts

Chasing away other intruding Yellow Rails is common during the breeding season when birds are territorial.

Yellow Rails sometimes build more the one nest and use the extras as places to brood the young after they hatch.


The Yellow Rail’s distinctive call is very similar to the sound produced by tapping two stones together.

Similar Species

  • Soras are larger and have a black face and throat.


The nest is a cup of sedges and grasses.

Number: 8-10.
Color: Whitish with darker markings.

Incubation and fledging:
– Young hatch at 17-18 days.
– Young fledge (leave the nest) in 2 days after hatching but remain with the female for some time.

Bent Life History of the Yellow Rail

Published by the Smithsonian Institution between the 1920s and the 1950s, the Bent life history series of monographs provide an often colorful description of the birds of North America. Arthur Cleveland Bent was the lead author for the series. The Bent series is a great resource and often includes quotes from early American Ornithologists, including Audubon, Townsend, Wilson, Sutton and many others.

Bent Life History for the Yellow Rail – the common name and sub-species reflect the nomenclature in use at the time the description was written.


This beautiful little rail, perhaps the handsomest of all our rails, is a most elusive bird. Although it has a wide distribution at certain seasons, ranging from Nova Scotia to California, it is seldom seen and is one of the least-known of this elusive group. Most of its life history is shrouded in mystery and even its voice is not too well known. Probably it is much more abundant than is generally supposed, but its secretive habits cause it to be overlooked.

Spring: The yellow rail is undoubtedly an abundant migrant, both spring and fall, throughout the United States, east of the Rocky Mountains at least. Spring records are not as numerous as fall records, probably because there are fewer men out with guns and dogs at that season. it is an early migrant in the spring, one having been taken near Detroit on March 26, 1908, and one caught alive in a snow bank during an early April blizzard near River Forest, Illinois. On the other hand there are some late records, which may indicate a more southern breeding range than is generally supposed. F~ B. McKechnie (1906) reported a female taken in Massachussetts on May 26, 1906, in which an egg was found that would probably have been laid in three or four days. S. T. Danforth writes to me that he has seen the yelloW rail in Porto Rico as late as April 1,1922, and C. J. IPennook’s notes contain a record of one at St. Marks, Florida, on May 22, 1915. Audubon (1840) was firmly convinced that this species bred in the Southern States, but no recent positive records have confirmed this view.

Courtship: We know little or nothing of the courtship of the yellow rail, except that the clicking or “kicker” notes form an important part of it. Rev. P. B. Peabody, in his extensive notes sent to me on this species, says:

While the clicking which constitutes the nuptial song of the yellow rail may be fitfully heard at various times of the middle day, both its frequency and its duration are greatly accentuated as day wears on to its final close. From midJune observations, the writer has sometimes believed that the nuptial ardor of the male may wane after incubation begins, as indicated by the fact that under this circumstance the clickings are sometimes more irregular and less frequent, in some cases altogether ceasing during the greater part of the day. But that this may not be indicative appears to be proven by Mr. Preble’s experience. This observer speaks of the calling of the yellow rails as being frequent, and apparently persistent, in the middle of July.

Nesting: No one has had anywhere nearly as much experience with the nesting habits of this elusive little rail as this same enthusi~stic observer; therefore I can not do better than to quote from some of his writings. Mr. Peabody (1922) has well described its familiar breeding grounds, in the “Big Coulee,” in Benson County, North Dakota, as follows:

One must give reasons why this bed of an ancient river should have been chosen as a summer home by that rarest of inland water birds, the yellow rail. The winding coulee, deep-set among the hills, is reached by steep ravines. These are clothed with partridge berry, rose, willow, aspen, and the silver-leafed buffalo berry. Rarely on these ravine sides are found huge boulders of yellow sandstone, under the edges of which at times a turkey vulture may place her eggs; and often beside them are the nests of the ferruginous roughieg. On top of the morainic buttes are scattered granite boulders of varied colors, all enriched by wonderfully varied lichens. Amid all these boulders, blossomed vetehes, coneflowers, and puccoons, in glowing tapestries. Here, in this most radiant setting, was the paradisic home of the yellow rails. The faunal conditions in the coulee itself were rarely fine for the yellow rails. Everywhere were wide areas of salt grass, alive with appetizing snails. There were great expanses of soft, fine grass, unburned and unmown year by year. Better still as will appear later, there were great expanses of soft, fine grass that were annually mown leaving in spots just the sort of matted flotsam that the yellow rail so dearly loves for its nesting.

One unusual condition has, I am sure, determined the fitness of the Big Coulee as a breeding place for the yellow rail. Far up on the top of a butte, rising out of a boggy spring pool, there flows a tiny stream of clear, sweet water. Down the slopes the streamlet flows, now losing itself to view amid lush grasses, and, again, pouring itself with noisy babbling over some buried boulder. Across the reach of narrow, coarse-grass meadow it quietly flows among the cowslips and sedges. Onward it meanders into the coulee; here it enlarges by intake; then spreads wideningly and sluggishly into the broader expanses. Now there appears a stretch or two of clean sand amid the the alluvial muck. Onward, at last, the stiller waters flow, out into one of the lagoons. No one element of that wonderful coulee is more delightsome than this little stream of clear, cool water, and right here, throughout many of the years of my observation, has been the focal point of the nesting domain of the yellow rail in that famous coulee. Nowhere else in all that region, during many years, was the yellow rail ever found.

After the above excellent account of the breeding haunts of the yellow rail, he gives us, in the same paper, the following description of the nests:

The first-found nests of the yellow rail on the Big Coulee were all of them placed among coarse grasses. In such cover, then, did I first seek. It is amusing to recall how, although repeatedly warned that one should work his way through the meadow growth with care, lest he crush precious eggs, I should still, near the close of the first day’s search, and weary with the unusual exertion, have allowed my feet to drag a bit. Then, just at the despair point, I happened to see an egg lying on a bare spot. Stooping to pick it up, I saw that it was what I had been seeking. Assured that a nest was near at hand, I faced about, only to find that the toc of my boot had drawn away the canopy from the cosiest possible nest of a yellow rail. In this case, it was plain that the nest canopy was incidental. It was just a mat of dead and partly prone grass, perhaps somewhat moulded by the rail as her nest making went on. Of this character were most of the nest canopies afterward found, in whatsoever sort of matrix the nest proper may have been placed. And yet, the coarse-grass locus is hardly the norm. Of two distinctive types of nest matrix appearing (with water of the same depth in both), I have found the fine-grass type to have been the prevailing one. My second nest, found next morning, was the only one of the entire series in which there has been any evidence of a built-in canopy. This nest was in a fine-grass area, some rods from the former, amid rather scanty grasses. Water was of about the usual depth favored: 4 inches. The canopy was very slight and the surrounding herbage quite thin. Only two other nests that I now recall were so poorly hidden. In every other case, all nests have been utterly concealed, there being no trace whatever of any artificial moulding of the standing or the prone herbage. Herein lies the supreme cunning of yellow rails. In the majority of cases noted, then, the nesting sites of this rail have been where the hayrake of the previous year has dropped a small wisp of hay. This fact has led to success in the nest finding, when once the trick has been learned. One had only to traverse the cleanmown areas and examine every likely wisp of dead grass; and ultimately the ncst would be found. Under some one of such, and that, usually, the most unlikely one of a hundred or more, would be the place where has lurked a most neat and elaborate nest. The most wonderful fabric!of all was found, on June, years ago, after both skill and insight had become evolved. Amid coarse-grass bogs, 100 feet and over from the springstream, there stood one bog, a bit apart from the rest. The water about it was rather deep. On top of this grass tussock was a bit of the dead grass of the previous year. This I tore away, finding beneath a nest of unusual perfection. It was of the usual diameter: about 5 inches: but thicker: an inch and a half. Most wonderful the structure of it. Every blade of the fine grasses that composed it had been brought from far, and carried upward, from the side of the tussock into the top, through a small hole but little larger than a mouse hole. Every yellow-rail nest of my finding has been of this general character: About 1 inch thick; made of the finest possible grasses; and between 4 and 5 inches in diameter. The clipping of the nests is never so broad as with other rails; just because, one must presume, fewer eggs are to be placed within it.

Two nests, out of a dozen, found by Fred Maitby (1915), are somewhat different; he describes them as follows:

Nest No. 8 which I found on June 24 was out in the Big Coulee. I was crossing a little hay meadow from which the hay had been removed in 1899, when I caught sight of egg shells lying on the ground. Examination showed them to be those of the yellow rail from which the young had hatched. In another moment I spied the nest. There was no dead grass here and the green blades had been pulled down and fastened about the nest, thus forming a green screen over it. The nest was a rather thin affair of dead blades, placed on the damp ground. I had been under so strong an impression that the nests of these birds would be found only in places where there was plenty of dead grass to afford concealment that I hadn’t thought of searching the “cleaner” areas.

Nest No. 11 was my lucky find. After I had about given up hope, in the outskirts of the meadow, outside the damper, soggier portion, I suddenly found myself looking down upon a beautiful set of nine eggs. The nest was of coarse, dead blades mostly, and placed upon thc ground in a rather thick bunch of growing grass. There was no dead grass about and no canopy over the nest, the ends of the green blades simply hanging loosely together a foot or more above it.

A most surprising discovery was the finding of a yellow rail’s nest in Long Valley, Mono County, California, on June 6,1922, by W. Leon Dawson (1922); he relates the experience, as follows:

We were dragging a rather thin stretch of marsh grass when a Jack Snipe flushed and I called Stevens to my assistance, leaving Bobby, who was more remote, standing listlessly by his rope-end. Returning from a fruitless quest we were about to resume operations when Bobby exclaimed, “Well, look at this!” He had been standing all the while within 3 feet of a low-lying cushion which held, in a compact and perfect circle, eight fresh eggs. The cover of marsh grass was scanty, not over 15 inches high, and the water shallow: an inch or so: yet there was no trace of a bird about. The eggs were different: no doubt of that; much smaller than those of a sora, which we had, fortunately, just examined; of a dark, old-ivory color, heavily sprinkled almost capped at the larger end, with rich reddish brown spots. The nest itself was noncommittal, a wellrounded and rather deep bowl of coiled grasses, 33~ inches across by 2 in depth inside, built up to a height of three inches clear of the water. Notably, there was present a leaning and overshadowing wisp.of dead grass. I considered the exhibit long and carefully, too sobered, for once, to render snap judgment. The boys became impatient and pressed for an expression of opinion. Finally I said, “Well, boys, to the best of my knowledge and belief, these are eggs of the yellow rail (Ceturnicops noz~eboracensis), the first breeding record for California, and the first set ever taken west of the Rocky Mountains.”

Eggs: I quote the following from Mr. Peabody’s notes:

As might be expected noeeborccensis parallels jernaicensis in the fewness of the eggs normally laid. Enough nests have been found to establish the norm beyond dispute. My field notes involve 5 sets of 8, 3 of 9, and 3 of 10. No sets numbering more than 10 have ever been found. The ground color of the eggs of the yellow rail is usually of a rich, warm buff, as rich as the richest-colored eggs of Asiatic fowl. This color fades, rapidly, with time, even when hidden froni the light. The dominant shape of these eggs is a decidedly-pointed ovate. Rounded-ovate specimens are not infrequent. In any case, there is a remarkable uniformity in the eggs of any one set, not only in shape but in the markings. No other eggs of North Amerioan birds could be confused with the eggs of this rail. It is rarely, indeed, that an egg bears any marks, however small, below the upperheight of the apex. Of extra-typical character, in this respect, was a nestless incomplete set of six eggs that were marvelously like eggs of jamaicensis, except for one fairly-typical specimen. The dominant style of markings is the dense, fioriated, or stippled cap. This is borne, often, on the extreme apex. The ordinary color type is a pale sepia or bright cinnamon, with a slight tendency toward pale vinaceous. Thus, the eggs of the yellow rail are of very remerkable beauty. Where markings occur on the body of the egg they are very small, often mere specks. If wreathings occur they are usually near the apices; and they are generaly rather loose. In this type, also, spots, and specks predominate. It is not su very infrequently that one finds an egg capped at the small end. Two such did I find in one set. Rarely do more than two or three eggs in a set bear any body markings whatever. A single very dark and unusually handsome egg (Maltby), was marked as follows: On a very dark surface was founds loose and streaky cap, somewhat “bedaubed.” The markings were of light and dark cinnamon with little of lilaceous tint. The markings extendeo well down toward the middle of the egg. There were a few streaky body spots. Another egg in the same set bore three cinnamon spots, near the small end. A third egg in this set was the most peculiar egg of the entire Benson County series, faintly and scatteringly specked, all over, with a marked tendency toward a capping with the brighter markings.

The measurements of 32 eggs average 28.3 by 20.7 millimeters; the eggs showing the four extremes measure 29.7 by 21.3; 27.2 by 22.3; and 26.3 by 19.5 millimeters.

Plumages: The downy young of the yellow rail seems to be entirely unknown, but it is probably black like the young of the other small rails. The youngest juvenals I have been able to find are October birds, which probably represent a first winter rather than a juvenal plumage. These differ from adults in being more plainly colored below, in having a different color pattern on the head and neck and in being lighter colored and more buff y generally. The breast is “light ochraceous buff,” unmarked with the dusky tips seen in adults, paling to buffy white on the throat and to pure white on the belly; the flanks are as in the adult, but more brownish and less blackish; the crown, hind neck, and upper back are less blackish, more brownish and huffy, with a striped effect, each feather being centrally dark brown, “bister” or “warm sepia,” broadly edged laterally with “light ochraceous buff”; the small white spots, so conspicuous on the head and neck of the adult, are entirely lacking in the young bird; the back, scapulars, and rump are much as in the adult, but with rather less of the white, transverse barring and with decidedly more and wider buff edgings, especially on the scapulars; the wing coverts are browner and more buffy than in the adult, “snuff brown” to “sayal brown.”

This plumage is worn, with practically no change, (luring the first winter and spring; April birds are like October birds. Apparently a complete postnuptial molt takes place during the next summer and fall, which produces the adult plumage. Specimens showing the beginning of this molt are lacking, but several September and October birds show the final stages of it.

Material is lacking to show the annual molts of adults. Adults are much darker colored above than young birds, with more white bars and spots, especially on the forward parts, and the breast is marked with little dusky crescents, the tips of the feathers. Audubon’s (1840) plate illustrates an adult.

Food: Very little is known about the food of this species. Mr. Peabody’s notes say:

We have seen that the feeding habit which carries the yellow rail out of its favored penetralia into the short-grass areas would seem to indicate a fondness for insect food. Personally, I am inclined to believe that fresh-water snails constitute a large part of this bird’s diet. Most of the nests in a colony visited by me for many years, lay not over 100 yards from a sluggish little stream of fresh water that meandered across a meadow largely alkaline, and the bed and margins of this stream were swarming with little snails. In June of 1923, as I passed along this stream whose margin was narrowly fringed with grasses, left by the mower, I twice flushed a yellow rail within a few minutes, one of these dashing into the water, in his haste to escape me, withal the scanty covert. To corroborate this thesis comes Mr. Wayne (1905a) to say that the yellow rails dissected by him all contained snail remains in their stomachs.

Behavior: The flight of the yellow rail is said to resemble that of the sora. It usually makes rather short, feeble flights just over the tops of the grasses and drops down suddenly with uplifted wings and dangling legs. But, when thoroughly aroused and intent on going somewhere, its flight is strong, direct, and rather swift. It can be recognized easily in flight by the large amount of white in the secondaries. But it is seldom seen in flight and most observers agree on its secretive and skulking habits. Audubon (1840) seems to have been more fortunate in seeing it than more recent observers, for he says:

In the course of my stay at the Silver Springs in East Florida, I observed a good number of these birds along the margins of the lakes and swampy bayous, and had ample opportunities of assuring myself that this species is far from being nocturnal, as authors have alleged, at least when in places where they are under no apprehension of danger. In those sultry solitudes I have at times seen them following the margins of the muddy shores, with delicate and measured steps, until attracted by something worthy of their attention, when they suddenly jerked their tail upwards and for a moment disappeared. Again, they would gracefully leap upon the slender twig of some low shrub or bush, apparently in search of small snails or other objects, jerking their tail at every movement. There it was that I again saw the extraordinary power of contraction which their body is able to assume while they are pushing forward between two or more stubborn branches. They were all so gentle that I at times approached within a few yards of them, when they would now and then look cunningly at me, rise more erect for a moment, and then resume their occupations.

On the other hand, Mr. Peabody. after his many years of experience with it, says in his notes:

But once in 20 years did I ever flush a yellow rail from her nest. I have several times approached a nest previously discovered, with slow caution, making then a quick run to the spot. Yet never did I succeed in finding the bird at home. Once, after discovering a nest where surrounding herbage was wholly beaten down by horses, making unnoticed escape by skulking fairly impossible, I left the spot, after examining the eggs, amid pitiless cold rain. Ten minutes later I returned, against the wind, and cautiously; no rail appeared; yet the eggs were warm. Never but once, in the 20 odd years, did I ever actually see a yellow rail come out into the open. In this case, as I approached a small area of smoothly beaten-down fine grass, a yellow rail ran out, some feet ahead of me; ran swiftly for about fifteen yards; then stood for just an instant in statuesque pose; and then vanished, in an instant. For all the world like a 10-day, brown leghorn chicken did it look.

The voices of the marsh are often veiled in mystery; the vocalist is seldom seen, almost never by the average observer; and among the many, varied calls that one hears it is often difficult, if not impossible, to identify positively the author of any one. Fortunately for us, J. H. Ames (1902) has positively identified the notes of the yellow rail from a bird he had in captivity; he records the notes as “lcilc-lcik-kik-kik-queah”; sometimes the “kik” note w&is repeated seven or eight ti~nes. His published note on it is entitled “Solution of the ‘Ornithological Mystery,’ ” assuming that the “kicker” notes referred to by William Brewster (1901), as probably made by the black rail, were really referable to the yellow rail. I am inclined to agree with Mr. MoKechnie (1906) that Mr. Ames has solved the mystery and that the yellow rail may yet be found breeding in Massachusetts.

I quote again from Mr. Peabody, as follows:

Right here one Bhould emphasize the marvelous acoustic of the clicking of the yellow raiL When heard at a fair distance it seems decidedly nonresonant; but when one listens only a few feet away, this sound has all of the hollow, throaty quality so characteristic of the Virginia rail. This note may be almost perfectly imitated by tapping a hollow beef bone with a bit of iron. The usual rhythmic form of the call is,, etc Thus, the ordinary motif is in double time, with triplets in the second measures, These iterations are very uniform, though with occasional variations. Now and then a male may break into quadruplets toward the end of his half-minute series; while anoccasional bird may break the rhythm altogether. But the sound of this clicking carries far. More than once, after toiling the meadow reaches until after dusk, have I set out for my own roostiug place a mile away, only to stop, on renewed occasion, to listen to my yellow rails. With a keen wind blowing in the opposite direction, I have distinctly heard the calls, not only from the butte crest, 200 feet above the meadow, but from the prairie, a full quarter-mile away.

Fall: M uch more is known about the autumnal migration of the yellow rail than about its movements in the spring, probably because more gunners are afield in the fall. Walter H. Rich (1907) says that it is more common in Maine than the Virginia rail; he writes:

Within the last three years I have known of the capture of possibly 50 specimens of the yellow rail near Portland, Maine, and have myself taken at least half that number, while of the Virginia rails scarcely 20 have been killed in the same time. The yellow rail seems to be quite hardy, staying here after the other species have deserted us and the ice has made in the pond holes of the marsh. The writer has shot them when there had been severe cold for November and after a snowfall of 3 or 4 inches.

Robert 0. Morris (1905) has taken a number of yellow rails near Springfield, Massachusetts. He says:

The place where they were found was wet meadow land covered with wild grass, which in October stood, in places where it had not been harvested, to the height of 2 or 3 feet and harbored many Virginia rails and soras. The grass upon the other part of the land was cut in the summer, and by the middle of October the second growth reached the height of 7 or 8 inches, and in this portion the yellow rails are to be found, they apparently not desiring so thick a cover as do the common kinds. I have flushed all by the aid of a dog, except one, and that rose about 20 feet ahead of me, evidently frightened by my approach. The earliest date in any autumn that I have found them was the 17th of September, and I think that the latest was the 22d of October. In this part of the Connecticut valley I have been in many meadows of the same character as the one in question, accompanied by a dog educated in such a way that the scent given out by any kind of rail would so attract his attention that he would be likely to make known the presence of such a bird, if any were there, but in these places I have never found a yellow rail, and it seems worthy of note that this species should be a regular autumn visitor to a certain piece of meadow land, containing perhaps three acres, and to be found nowhere else in this vicinity at any time.

Winter: Very little has been published since Audubon’s time on the winter habits of the yellow rail. Arthur T. Wayne (1905a) once showed me a meadow near his home in which he hsd taken a number of these birds, of which he writes:

On February 3, 1904, while out partridge shooting, I saw my dog pointing in a ]ow, wet piece of open land with a dense growth of short, dead grass, and being unable to flush anything myself, although I trampled the grass down in every direction, I told her to take it. She at once caught a yellow rail, which was the first one I had ever seen alive in South Carolina. I then made her hunt the entire field, and in less than 10 minutes she caught two more. These three yellow rails were caught near sunset. The next morning, February 4, I again visited the field, in company with my dog, and in less than five minutes she had caught another; while a second specimen was flushed and shot. On February 5 and 5, two more were taken, which make seven in all. On November 19, 1904, my dog again captured another one alive. These rails would not flush, although in every instance I tried my utmost to make them fly, and the only one that did elude the dog by flying, was due to the dog’s failure to seize it in a very thick growth.

Range: United States and Canada north to latitude 60 degrees.

Breeding range: North to Mackenzie (Fort Resolution, Little Buffalo River, and Salt River); Manitoba (York Factory); Ontario (Fort Severn); Quebec (Fort George); and Maine (Calais). East to Maine (Calais). South to Ohio (Cireleville); Illinois (Chicago and Winnebago); Wisconsin (Jefferson County and Racine); North Dakota (Devil’s Lake and Esmond); and Saskatchewan (Fort Qu’Appelle). West to Saskatchewan (Fort Qu’Appelle); Alberta (Red Deer); Mackenzie (Salt River, Little Buffalo River, and Fort Resolution); and California (Mono County).

Summer occurrences for this species, some of which may possibly represent breeding birds, extend the range southeast to New Hampshire (Hampton); Massachusetts (Salem, Boston, and Plymouth); Rhode Island (Westerly); Connecticut (New Haven and Milford); and the District of Columbia. South to the District of Columbia; Pennsylvania (Erie); Ohio (Hamilton); Indiana (Brookville, Bloomington, and Vincennes); Missouri (St. Louis and Independence); Kansas (Lawrence); and Colorado (Barr).

Winter range: North to California (probably Suisun Marshes); Arizona (Sacaton); Louisiana (Belle Isle and New Orleans); Mississippi (probably Bay St. Louis and Biloxi); Alabama (Barachias and Greensboro); Georgia (Darien); and South Carolina (Mount Pleasant). East to South Carolina (Mount Pleasant); Georgia (Darien); and Florida (upper St. Johns River and probably Cape Sable). South to Florida (probably Cape Sable); Louisiana (Diamond and Belle Isle); and California (Riverside County). West to California (west central counties).

Winter occurrences have also been noted from more northern points: California (Humboldt Bay); Oregon (Scio); northern South Carolina (Chester); North Carolina (Weaverville, Newbern, and Fort Macon); Maryland (Prince Georges County); and New York (Seaford and Ithaca). It has also been listed as a probable visitor to Cuba at this season; and two were reported from Bermuda in October, 1847.

Spring migration: Early dates of arrival are: District of Columbia, Marcn 28, 1884; Maryland, Patapsco Marsh, April 27, 1893; Pennsylvania, Erie, April 23, 1904; New Jersey, Princeton, April 10, 1895; New York, Murray, April 21, 1894, and Long Island, April 27, 1887; Connecticut, Gaylordsville, March 24, 1888, and Milford, April 17, 1880; Missouri, St. Louis, March 27, 1876, and Sand Ridge, Clark County, April 21, 1889; Illinois, Madison County, March 27, 1876, Lebanon, April 5,1877, Odin, April 5, 1892, Normal Park, April 12, 1888, Fernwood, April 14, 1888, and Chicago, April 18, 1896; Indiana, Muncie, May 12, 1890; Ohio, Barnesville, April 2,1916, Cleveland, April 24, 1880, and Oberlin, April 30, 1917; Michigan, Detroit, March 28, 1908; Ontario, Toronto, April 24, 1899; Iowa, Clinton, April 10, 1879, Iowa City, April 18, 1916, and Keokuk, April 22, 1888; Wisconsin, Sumpter, April 23, 1908, Barrow, May 5, 1911, Whitewater, May 5, 1911, Madison, May 13, 1911, and Stoughton, May 18, 1885; Minnesota, Lake Wilson, May 3,1909; Kansas, Lawrence, April 18, 1885; Nebraska, Lincoln, April 30, 1909; and Manitoba, Margaret, May 9, 1913. A late spring record is a specimen from Dedham, Massachusetts, on May 26, 1906.

Fall migration: L ate dates of fall departure are: Manitoba, Aweme, September 10, 1901; Kansas, Lawrence, October 1, 1885; Minnesota, Lanesboro, September 24, 1891: Wisconsin, Delavan, October 13, 1901; Michigan, Ann Arbor, September 30, 1908, Kalamazoo, October 19, 1890, and Yicksburg, October 20, 1912; Ontario, Toronto, October 15,1895, and Ottawa, October 22,1895; Illinois, Chicago, September 20, 1879; Maine, Portland, October 1,1905; New Hampshire, Seabrook, October 15, 1871; Vermont, Windsor, October 20, 1913; Massachusetts, Springfield, October 16, 1894, and Chatham November 25, 1911; Rhode Island, South Auburn, October 15, 1911; Connecticut, New Haven, October 1,1902, Hadlyme, October 10, 1903, Quinnipiac Marshes, October 15, 1894, and Milford, November 10,1876; New York, central, September 20, 1872, Geneva, September 20, 1911, Orient Point, October 4, 1898, and Canandaigua, October 6, 1883; New Jersey, Palmyra, October 13, 18%, and Salem, October 24, 1908; Pennsylvania, Erie, October 19, 1894, and Carlisle, October 16, 1844; Maryland, Dorchester County, November 17, 1920; District of Columbia, November 13, 1843; and Virginia, Blacksburg, October 19.

Egg dates: North Dakota: 10 records, May20 to June 18; 5 records June 4 to 8.

About the Author

Sam Crowe

Sam is the founder of He has been birding for over 30 years and has a world list of over 2000 species. He has served as treasurer of the Texas Ornithological Society, Sanctuary Chair of Dallas Audubon, Editor of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's "All About Birds" web site and as a contributing editor for Birding Business magazine. Many of his photographs and videos can be found on the site.

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