The Midway Rail

"The Midway Rail" number 107 of 200 from Robert Aitken's book Miniatures of a Zen Master.

According to the Midway Atoll NWR Bird List and Seabird Population Estimates, The Laysan Rail (Poranual palmeri) was first introduced to the Midway Atoll, then became extinct.

Robert Aitken, talks of his experience of the bird and refers to this bird as the "Midway Rail". He talks of how a amateur ornithologist captured, killed and mounted one of these small birds.

If I were there, I too would have found this objectionable. A bit of cruelty on a bit of consciousness no different from my own bit. It is still sad, even now.

Aitken's "Midway Rail"

The story of this little bird is even sadder than Aitken lets on. It fought for survival when rabbit were introduced to its native environment. With no predators the rabbits ate all the vegetation turning the islands into barren dusty deserts. Native to the Hawaiian Island of Laysan (Kauō), the 'Laysan Rail' was transplanted all around the Pacific but never found a home. This was a very fragile species and like canneries in mine shafts, these birds have warned us and are even now asking us to be mindful.


Any error or confusion created by my commentary on
Miniatures of a Zen Master
is solely a reflection of my own delusion and ignorance.
Any merit generated by this activity is solely the result of
Aitken Roshi's clear teaching and is dedicated to
all Buddhas and Bodhisattvas throughout space and time.