About a week ago, Kate happened upon this bird (and took this picture) while out walking The Dog. The poor thing had come to a bad end, but the real mystery for us was what kind of bird it was. After looking through a couple of our bird books and considering different possibilities--the bill and feet are pretty distinctive--we started looking at shorebirds even though our neighborhood is about a mile from the bay and, except for the occasional gull, we don't see them alight here. The closest match we found: the Virginia Rail, possibly an immature one (despite its name, the species seems to be more widely distributed in California than its eponymous state, if indeed it's named after the state).
Kate's friend Debbie took our guess and sent it to an editor at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Here's what she heard back: