I was excited to see a Virginia Rail on the south side of Highway 49. I had never seen one before. Apparently, this is not unusual. Ornithologist S. Dillon Ripley, a rail expert, said, “They are perhaps the most elusive birds on the continent.” They are also difficult to photograph as they dart over and around marsh vegetation without stopping.
The chicks are even more evasive as they stay hidden in the cattails. Check out their long toes! Their toes help them to get over and around marsh vegetation. They can also swim under water using their wings to propel themselves.
The Monarch butterfly doesn’t need long toes, but he does need his proboscis. You can see it here bent at a 90 degree angle so he can sip nectar from Joe-Pye Weed. The proboscis starts out as two strands that fuse together. It also contains muscles and a nerve. It is an amazingly intricate structure in a fine strand. The Horicon Marsh has so many fascinating things to see!