bird i.d. needed (West Virginia/aquatic)

As you might’ve guessed from the subject heading, I was in WV this weekend and spotted a bird that I can’t id. I’ve spent a fair amount of time online looking at pictures; it’s probably something in the sandpiper/plover family. Trouble is, it wasn’t speckled, and most of the pipers seem to be.

It definitely is in the waterbird category; medium-sized (about the same as a largish duck), with non-webbed feet. Medium red chest with indigo-colored wings and back. My mom said she saw some white under its chin, which I didn’t see.

It had a pretty substantial wingspan when it took off.

It was not a duck of any kind because of the lack of webbed feet and the fact that it had a long, skinny beak.

Unfortunately, we didn’t have a camera with us, so I’m calling on the powers of the SDMB to help us figure out what we saw!

It sounds to me like you may have seen an adult virginia rail ( and have good pictures). If you could be more specific about your description, including what town you were near, what kind of body of water it was in, and the color of the beak and feet, you’d be putting us on a fresher trail (and presenting a much less interesting challenge, but that’s that).

One other wildly-speculative guess is that you saw a kingfisher. They’re aquatic, but rarely seen on the ground–usually they perch.

If my guess is wrong, try to say specifically what was different about the bird you saw. Breast not red enough? Back too speckled? Bird isn’t wearing a West Virginia Mountaineers ball cap? Tell us!

Hope this helps…

Well, the second picture looks a bit like it, but the beak was not curved like that. Could be the lighting, but the breast is a little paler than the one I saw. In the first link, the back does not look as blue as the bird I saw, and the speckling was definitely not there.

We were in Berkeley Springs and were near fresh water (a stream). Unfortunately, I didn’t notice the color of the legs or beak; I’m pretty sure they weren’t yellow since that would have provided a stronger contrast with its feathers.

Also, it’s tough to tell with the links provided, but I think my bird had longer legs.

Hope that helps narrow it down more…

You might have seen a green heron, which, despite its name, isn’t really very green. We get them occasionally around here (NoVa) near water.

When they’re sitting still, the long neck is almost invisible, which can be confusing.

A more schematic drawing, and another.

Could it have been a green heron? It has the bluish back, reddish belly, and is about the right size of what you described.


On preview I see Early Out had the same idea. Oh, well.

You know, I think the green heron’s a winner. At first when I saw the picture, I said no way because of the neck, but looking at the pictures where its neck is tucked in, that looks more like it. Thanks, guys!