Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Show Summary Details
More options …

Animal Migration

Ed. by Davis, Andrew

Open Access
See all formats and pricing
More options …

Virginia and Yellow Rail autumn migration ecology: synthesis using multiple data sets

Auriel M. V. Fournier
  • Corresponding author
  • Arkansas Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, Arkansas 72701, USA
  • Mississippi State University, Biloxi, Mississippi 39532, USA
  • Email
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
/ Doreen C. Mengel / David G. Krementz
  • U.S. Geological Survey, Arkansas Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, Arkansas 72701, USA
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
Published Online: 2017-09-02 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/ami-2017-0003


Virginia and Yellow Rails are among the least studied birds in North America, and there is a specific lack of information about their autumn migration ecology and migratory habitat use. We conducted nocturnal surveys across 11 public wetlands in Missouri, USA from 2012-2016, and compared the timing of autumn migration from our surveys with three opportunistic datasets: 1) eBird records, 2) building strikes, and 3) state ornithological records. The observed timing (start and end date and duration) of Virginia Rail autumn migration varied between the opportunistic data and our surveys. Virginia Rail opportunistic data were bimodal, while our surveys had a single peak the second week in October. Yellow Rail autumn migration through Missouri peaked earlier in our surveys than opportunistic datasets which peaked during the second week in October. Both rails were found in moist soil habitats, however Virginia Rails selected perennial vegetation more than was available, while Yellow Rails selected annual plant species. Both species showed no selection for water depth and used shallow flooded wetlands. Understanding the autumn migration period and habitat requirements will allow wetland managers to better manage lands for autumn migrating Virginia and Yellow Rails.

Keywords : Virginia Rail; Yellow Rail; Autumn Migration; eBird; Building Strikes; Phenology; Wetlands; Habitat Use


  • [1] Webster M.S., and Marra P.P., The Importance of Understanding Migratory Connectivity and Seasonal Interactions, Pages 199-209 in R. Greenberg and Marra, editors. Birds in Two Worlds: The Ecology and Evolution of Migration, The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, Maryland, USA, 2005.Google Scholar

  • [2] Webster M.S., Marra P.P., Haig S.M., Bensch S., and Holmes R.T. Links Between Worlds: Unraveling Migratory Connectivity, Trends Ecol Evol, 2002, 17, 76-83.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • [3] Hostetler J.A., Sillett T.S, and Marra P.P. Full-Annual-Cycle Population Models for Migratory Birds, Auk, 2015, 132, 433-449.Web of ScienceGoogle Scholar

  • [4] Marra P.P., Cohen E.B., Loss S.R, Rutter J.E., and Tonra C.M. A Call for Full Annual Cycle Research in Animal Ecology, Biol Lett, 2015, 11, 2015.0552.Google Scholar

  • [5] Fournier A.M.V., Mengel D.C., Gbur E.E., and Krementz D.G. 2017. The Timing of Autumn Sora (Porzana carolina) Migration, Wilson J Ornith. 129Google Scholar

  • [6] Conway C. J. Virginia Rail, Page 173 in. The Birds of North America. Ithaca: Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology, 1995.Google Scholar

  • [7] Bookhout T. A. Yellow Rail, Page 139 in. The Birds of North America. Ithaca: Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology, 2015.Google Scholar

  • [8] Nadeau C.P., Conway C.J., Smith B.S., Lewis T.E. Maximizing Detection Probability of Wetland-Dependent Birds During Point-Count Surveys in Northwestern Florida, Wilson J Ornithol, 2008, 120, 513-518.Web of ScienceGoogle Scholar

  • [9] Conway C.J., and Nadeau C.P. Effects of Broadcasting Conspecific and Heterospecific Calls on Detection of Marsh Birds in North America, Wetlands, 2010, 30, 358-368.Web of ScienceCrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • [10] Bond A.L., and Lavers J.A. Flesh-footed Shearwaters (Puffinus carneipes) in the Northeastern Pacific Ocean: Summary and Synthesis of Records from Canada and Alaska, Can Field Natur, 2015, 129, 263-267.Google Scholar

  • [11] Rundle W.D., and Fredrickson L.H. Managing Seasonally Flooded Impoundments for Migrant Rails and Shorebirds, Wildl Soc Bull, 1981, 9, 80-87.Google Scholar

  • [12] Haramis G.M., and Kearns G.D. Soras in Tidal Marsh: Banding and Telemetry Studies on the Patuxent River, Maryland, Waterbirds, 2007, 30 Special Issue, 105-121.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • [13] Strader R.W., and Stinson P.H. 2005. Moist-Soil Management Guidelines for The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Southeast Region. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Southeast Region, Jackson, Mississippi, USA.Google Scholar

  • [14] Reid F.A. Differential Habitat Use by Waterbirds In a Managed Wetland Complex, PhD Thesis, University of Missouri-Columbia, Missouri, USA, 1989.Google Scholar

  • [15] Sayre M.W., and Rundle W.D. Comparison of Habitat Use by Migrant Soras and Virginia Rails, J Wildl Manage, 1984, 48, 599-605.Google Scholar

  • [16] Butler C. J., Pham L.H., Stinedurf J.N., Roy C.L., Judd E.L., Burgess N.J., and Caddell G.M. Yellow Rails Wintering in Oklahoma, Wilson J Ornith, 2010, 122, 385-387.Web of ScienceGoogle Scholar

  • [17] Jacobs B. Birds of Missouri, Jefferson City, MO. 2001.Google Scholar

  • [18] Fournier A.M.V., and Krementz D.G. Nocturnal Distance Sampling All-Terrain Vehicle Surveys for Non-Breeding Rails, Wildl Soc Bull, 2017, 41, 151-156Google Scholar

  • [19] Sullivan B.L., Wood C.L., Iliff M.J., Bonney R.E, Fink D., and Kelling S. eBird: A Citizen-based Bird Observation Network in the Biological Sciences, Bio Cons, 2009, 142, 2282-2292.Google Scholar

  • [20] Loss S.R., Will T, Marra P.P., Loss S.S., and Marra P.P. Bird- Building Collisions in the United States: Estimates of Annual Mortality and Species Vulnerability, Condor, 2014, 116, 8-23.Google Scholar

  • [21] Northrup J.M., Hooten M.B., Anderson C.R. Wittenmyer, G. 2013 Practical Guidance on Characterizing Availability in Resource Selection Functions Under a Use-Availability Design, Ecology, 2013, 94, 1456-1463.CrossrefWeb of ScienceGoogle Scholar

  • [22] Darrah A. J., and Krementz D.G. Occupancy and Habitat Use of The Least Bittern and Pied- Billed Grebe in The Illinois And Upper Mississippi River Valleys, Waterbirds, 2010, 33, 367-375.Web of ScienceGoogle Scholar

  • [23] Darrah A. J., and Krementz D.G. Habitat Use of Nesting and Brood-rearing King Rails in the Illinois and Upper Mississippi River Valleys, Waterbirds, 2011, 34, 160-167.CrossrefWeb of ScienceGoogle Scholar

  • [24] Cowardin L. M., Carter V., Golet F.C., and Laroe E.T. Classification of Wetlands and Deepwater Habitats of the United States, Biological Services Program, 1979.Google Scholar

  • [25] Lele S.R., Keim J.L., and Solymos P. ResourceSelection: Resource Selection (Probability) Functions for Use-Availability Data, 2016.Google Scholar

  • [26] Lele S.R. A New Method for Estimation of Resource Selection Probability Function, J Wildl Manage, 2009, 73, 122-127.Web of ScienceGoogle Scholar

  • [27] R Core Team, R: A Language and Environment for Statistical Computing. R Foundation for Statistical Computing, Vienna, Austria. 2016.Google Scholar

  • [28] Lele S.R., and Keim J.L. Weighted Distributions and Estimation of Resources Selection Probability Functions, Ecology, 2006, 87, 3021-3028.Google Scholar

  • [29] Robert M., Cloutier L., and Laporte P. The Summer Diet of the Yellow Rail in Southern Quebec, Wilson Bull, 1997, 109, 702-710.Google Scholar

  • [30] Robert M., Jobin B., Shaffer F., Robillard L., Gagnon B., Obert M.I.R., Obin B.E.J., and Haffer F.R.S. Yellow Rail Distribution and Numbers in Southern James Bay, Quebec, Canada, Waterbirds, 2004, 27, 282-288.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • [31] Sheehy J., Taylor C.M., and Norris D.R. The Importance of Stopover Habitat for Developing Effective Conservation Strategies for Migratory Animals, J Ornith, 2011, 152, 161-168.Web of ScienceGoogle Scholar

  • [32] Brown M., and Dinsmore J.J. Implications of Marsh Size and Isolation for Marsh Bird Management, J Wildl Manage, 1986, 50, 392-397.Google Scholar

  • [33] Albanese G., and Davis C.A. Characteristics Within and Around Stopover Wetlands Used by Migratory Shorebirds: Is the Neighborhood Important? Condor, 2015, 117, 328-340.Web of ScienceGoogle Scholar

About the article

Received: 2017-04-15

Accepted: 2017-08-03

Published Online: 2017-09-02

Published in Print: 2017-08-28

Citation Information: Animal Migration, Volume 4, Issue 1, Pages 15–22, ISSN (Online) 2084-8838, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/ami-2017-0003.

Export Citation

© 2017. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 License. BY-NC-ND 4.0

Comments (0)

Please log in or register to comment.
Log in