[Tweeters] The Yellow Rails of Klamath Marsh NWR (Mitch Blanton)

Mitch Blanton mitchblanton at yahoo.com
Thu Jun 13 19:42:37 PDT 2013

On a recent road trip, I had hopes of hearing yellow rail. John Rakestraw's book, "Birding Oregon", mentions 3 possible locales, all closely north of Klamath Falls. My first stop was at the office of the Klamath Marsh NWR where I met Faye Weekley who proved to be very knowledgeable regarding yellow rail. I was astonished to learn that their surveys result in an estimate of 300 pair on just their refuge. Access to the refuge is closed to the public, but the marsh is bisected by a state hiway, Silver Lake Rd=OR 76. That night, I returned at dark and parked at several pullouts between MP 5 and 7. There were no other cars using the causeway and the silence was disturbed only by the sound of winnowing snipe. At full dark, 10pm, a chorus of the clicking of yellow rails commenced. Hooray!
It was also interesting to hear about the research conducted there last year. Some of the marsh is subject to " haying"
and the staff wanted to determine
when the rails leave in the Fall so that the cut could take place afterwards. They put harnesses/transmitters on 19 yellow rails. This was accomplished by thrashing into the marsh at night, clicking stones, and netting the rails as they came in to defend their territory. The harnesses are designed to fall off in 4 months.
Monitoring of the transmitters was done by airplane. They learned that the rails leave in September, but at this point they have no idea where their migration takes them.

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