Source: Virginian-Pilot 

A prized species for birders, the king rail is beginning to flourish in the Mackay Island National Wildlife Refuge below Virginia Beach. The “secretive” bird is in the midst of its mating season, an ideal time to see and hear them, the Virginian-Pilot reports.

King rails are not a nationally endangered species but it’s rare to find them in inland states where they used to be more prominent, the Virginian-Pilot reports. There is even a billboard on NC 168 that brags about the bird’s presence in Currituck. “We felt it was something we wanted to do,” director of Currituck County Travel Tameron Kugler said.

After erecting the sign, the area saw a spike in birders seeking the elusive fowl.

The king rails are chicken-sized birds with brown feathers and dark stripes. According to the Virginian-Pilot, their mating call sounds like a hammer striking a nail. 

Because of a loss of food sources and marsh habitats, the birds mainly live in wildlife refuges. 

Read more about the elusive bird and its habitat from the Virginian-Pilot.