South Dakota
Birds and Birding
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Sora

Porzana carolina

Length: 8 - 10 inches Wingspan: 14 inches Seasonality: Summer
ID Keys: Chunky body, short yellow bill, black face and throat, dark brown back.

Sora - Porzana carolinaAs is the case with most of the Rails, Sora are often quite difficult to observe due to their preference for thick marshy vegetation.  They are one of the most common of Rails.  Unlike the long-billed Rails, their short bill prevents them from probing mudflats for small animals.  Instead, they feed heavily on seeds, other vegetative matter, and insects.

Habitat: During the breeding season, Sora can be found in a wide variety of freshwater marshy habitats, including wetlands, river and pond edges, and damp meadows.  They will inhabit saltwater marshes as well during the winter.

Diet: Feeds heavily on vegetative material, especially seeds and wild rice.  Also feeds on aquatic insects, snails, small crustaceans, and spiders. 

Behavior: Walks slowly through wetland vegetation, plucking food items from the surface of the water, from vegetation, or from the ground.  Will also occasionally probe in soft mud with its bill for food items.

Nesting: June through August

Breeding Map: Breeding Bird Survey Map

Song: A long descending whinny that's slower at the end.

Migration: Summers throughout much of Canada and the northern two-thirds of the United States.  Winters along U.S. coastlines, in the far southern portions of the U.S., and points south.

Similar Species: Virginia Rail, Yellow Rail

Conservation Status: Generally widespread and common, but local declines have been noted due to loss of freshwater marshes.

Further Information: 1) USGS Patuxent Bird Identification InfoCenter, Sora

2) Cornell Lab of Ornithology - Sora

3) eNature.com: Sora

Photo Information: April 26th, 2007 - Lake County, South Dakota - Terry L. Sohl

Additional Photos: Click on the image chips or text links below for additional, higher-resolution Sora photos.

 

Click on the map below for a higher-resolution view
Range Map - Sora
South Dakota Status: Common summer breeding resident in suitable habitat throughout the state.