LITTLE ROCK (AGFC) – Does driving the rice combine ever get monotonous, or do
the long days of harvesting leave you looking for creative ways to stay
awake? The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission has a new game you can play
to help pass the time.
the farmer's version of "I Spy," with king rails getting you the most
points in the game. The commission is asking that you look for all marsh
birds, but the king rail is the most important species for this effort.
Rice fields are the home for rails in the late summer through winter.
The majority of observations of king rails have come from farmers or
bird enthusiasts riding on rice combines during harvest. The other marsh
bird species to keep an eye out for are the Virginia rail, yellow rail
and black rail.
king rail is known to frequent rice fields in Louisiana and they were
historically common in Arkansas rice fields. Their love of rice fields
has even provided their nickname of the rice chicken. Participants
should look for a slightly reddish bird, roughly 15 inches tall, with a
white underside to its tail. The tail is one of the key marks to look
for. When flying, which will only be about 20 yards or so, their legs
will be dangling below them. The other rail species will have the same
white underside to the tail and also will fly with their legs dangling
below them. If you think you see a rail, send the AGFC your observation.
been well over 50 years since a thorough survey of king rails has been
carried out in Arkansas rice fields. To help with future research
projects and to try and estimate the king rail population, the AGFC is
hoping farmers can help report their observations. You only have to be
as specific as you want to be, but the more detailed information you can
provide the better.
According to the AGFC's nongame migratory bird program coordinator Karen
Rowe, examples of desired location information include GPS coordinates,
section-township-range, or the nearest road intersection. "If you're
not comfortable with that, that is fine. What we would prefer at a
minimum is the county of your observation," Rowe explained.
commission would also like reports of the species observed and the
number of birds. To report your observations contact Karen Rowe at
877-873-4651 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.