Sora

Porzana carolina
A Sora specimen on display in the exhibit "Birds of D.C."

A medium-sized (8-9 ¾ inches) rail, the Sora is most easily identified by its mottled brown back, gray neck, and black face and throat. Other field marks include a bright yellow bill, brown striped flanks, and a short tail. Male and female Soras are similar to one another in all seasons. The Sora breeds across much of Canada and the northern half of the United States. In the west, this species’ range extends as far south as central Arizona, while in the east this species breeds locally as far south as Virginia. During the winter, Soras may be found along the Pacific coast south of Oregon, along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts south of Delaware, and in the tropics as far south as northern South America. Soras breed in shallow freshwater wetland habitats. In winter, this species is less tied to freshwater, and may be found in ponds or small lakes, freshwater or saltwater marshes, flooded grasslands, and mangrove wetlands. Soras primarily eat a variety of plant and animal foods, including seeds and small aquatic invertebrates. In appropriate habitat, Soras may be seen wading in shallow water while foraging for food on the surface. If these birds are more hidden, perhaps beneath tall marsh grasses, it may still be possible to hear their call, a high tooting “ker-wee?” repeated many times in succession. Soras are primarily active during the day, although they may be heard calling at night.

Threat Status: Least Concern

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