Living Bird Magazine
- ORDER: Gruiformes
- FAMILY: Rallidae
A descending whinny emanates from the depths of cattails and rushes, but the source of this sound rarely shows itself. This secretive brown-and-gray marsh bird is a Sora, but drab it is not. When it finally pokes its head out of the reeds its bright yellow bill might have you thinking about Halloween candy corns. The Sora walks slowly through shallow wetlands a bit like a chicken that has had too much coffee, nervously flicking its tail and exposing the white feathers below.More ID Info
Find This Bird
The best time to see a Sora is early in the morning or late in the evening, when they are more likely to venture out of the dense vegetation to look for food. Listen for the characteristic whinny, which they give more frequently during migration and the breeding season (April–July) to know if you are in the right spot. Once you've heard a Sora, to maximize your chances of seeing one, look for an area with a clear view along a stretch of wetland with muddy edges.
- Polluela Sora (Spanish)
- Marouette de Caroline (French)
- Cool Facts
- It may not seem like it, because seeing a Sora takes some effort, but the Sora is the most abundant and widespread rail in North America.
- Soras have earned several nicknames including Carolina rail, soree, meadow chicken, and ortolan. The name ortolan was probably given to them by hunters keen on eating the small bird, much like the actual ortolan, which is a bunting from Europe that is a delicacy in France, although an illegal one.
- Soras might not look like they can fly long distances with their stubby wings and chubby bodies, but they fly hundreds of miles each spring and fall to wetlands in Central and South America.
- Loud noises sometimes give Soras a start, but instead of jumping like we might do they give a whinny call. Even the slamming of a car door may startle a Sora into calling.