How’s this for rare? A new-to-COASST foot-type family, found on a North Coast beach! Sue Keilman and Scott Horton found this Virginia Rail on their Third Beach survey. In the Beached Birds field guide, rails are most closely related to the American Coot. As seen in the guide, coots have lobed toes that recall those of the grebes. This rail, however, has four free toes, three of which are very long and spindly. As you can see in the photos, the longest toe is virtually the same length as the tarsus! As usual, foot type betrays function: rails are perfectly suited for walking on soft, marshy substrate and floating vegetation.
What surprise will COASSTers find next?