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threatened and/or endangered

Sora Porzana carolina


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credit: Elaine R. Wilson/CCSA

© Lang Elliot/ (audio)

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Alternate name: Sora Crake

Family: Rallidae, Rails, Gallinules, Coots view all from this family

Description ADULT MALE In breeding season has blue-gray face, neck, and breast, but note black between base of bill and eye, continuing as line down to center of chest. Belly is pale and flanks are barred brown, black, and white. Upperparts are brown, spangled with white on back; undertail is creamy white. Bill is yellow and legs are yellowish green. Nonbreeding bird is similar, but with duller bill and leg colors, and less extensive black on face. ADULT FEMALE Similar to nonbreeding male. JUVENILE Recalls adult female, but blue-gray elements of plumage are buff and bill is darker.

Dimensions Length: 8-10" (20-25 cm)

Habitat Widespread and common summer visitor to fresh-water marshes. Migrates south in fall and winters from southern U.S. to northern South America. Migrant and winter birds favor similar habitats, but also turn up in coastal wetlands.

Observation Tips Learn to recognize a Sora's call and you are likely to soon detect its presence in your local wetland. Seeing one is a different matter, but with patience it well may emerge from cover. Typically, a feeding Sora will follow a circuit around its territory, appearing in the same spot every hour or so.

Range Southwest, Great Lakes, Plains, Rocky Mountains, Western Canada, Florida, California, Alaska, Mid-Atlantic, New England, Texas, Northwest, Eastern Canada, Southeast

Voice Utters a whinnying squeal, and a loud keek in alarm.

Discussion Dumpy and rather secretive waterbird. Heard more often than it is seen. Typically skulks along marsh margins, its long toes allowing it to walk over soft mud or floating plants. Walks with a bobbing action and occasionally swims short distances. Feeds mainly on aquatic invertebrates. In flight (typically brief and low), note white trailing edge to inner wing (above and below) and white leading edge to underside of inner wing. Sexes are separable with care in summer.