the not-so-secretive Sora

Soras are a type of marsh bird that I rarely see because they are usually tucked away deep in the vegetation, obscured by tall stems and leafy plumes.  But this morning, a couple of Soras ventured out into the open water on the edges of the Mississippi marshes to forage, seemingly oblivious of the much larger ducks and geese around them.

Sora

Soras are a type of rail related to coots, moorhens, and gallinules.  They have a distinctive triangular shape, yellow bill, black mask, red eyes, yellow green legs with long toes, and usually carry their short tail feathers straight up in the air.

Sora

Mottled, rich brown feathers on their back help them blend into the edge of the marsh where they forage and nest.

Soras typically grab insects or seeds from the top of the water, occasionally probe into soft mud, walking quickly through the water and vegetation.  The adventurous Soras I watched this morning walked right up to and around resting ducks, paying no attention to their greater bulk, as they searched for hidden food items.

Sora and molting Wood Duck

The molting male Wood Duck seemed wary of the Sora though.

Sora and molting Wood Duck

Sora

Sora, just passing through…ducks don’t care

Sora

Long toes, with webbing between them, help Soras cruise through muddy muck of the marsh.

During the breeding season, we often hear the high-pitched descending notes of the Sora’s whinny call, but rarely seen them.  They are busy producing a lot of little Soras in a nest that might hold as many as 18 eggs, stacked in rows on top of each other.  Since the Soras start incubating before all the eggs have been laid, they hatch asynchronously, and the first youngsters to hatch jump out of the nest join one of the parents while the other parent continues to incubate.

Rumble.com produced an excellent video of Sora and Virginia Rails in their native habitat:

3 thoughts on “the not-so-secretive Sora

  1. Nice look at the Soras. That has only happened to me one time. And those birds didn’t care that a group of birders were taking photos and gawking at them for half an hour! A few of us even climbed out on the railing of the bridge over the marsh to get a good photo.

    • How is it that they are so shy most of the time and then so unwary of us observers at others? I’m clueless. Thanks for your observation, Leslie– very interesting.

  2.  Hi Sue,We live next to a two acre pond in Northern Idaho and each summer a family of Sora Rails entertain us with their calls and occasional appearances.  They are fond of running across the tops of the lily pads, at least the adolescents are.  Our cat once caught a chick, its feathers were black, black, a very strange sight to those used to the yellow of other chicks.  Once I saw a Sora Rail scamper off the lily pads and dart into the reeds and cattails and, since it was late spring and the aquatic vegetation was not yet fully engulfing everything, I was able to track it as it passed through the reeds and cat tails.  It’s speed was FAST.  It ran through the dense vegetation as fast as when running across the lawn. “Elusive” well describes the Sora Rail, but our 22 years of on-again, off-again acquaintance has made them seem familiar.  One unique trait that we have often seen is the “bobbing of the butt”, at least that is what we call it.  Visitors say, “We saw the strangest bird just now!”  “Was its butt bobbing?”  “Yeah!”  “Sora Rail.” Chad & Linda Erickson

    From: Back Yard Biology To: chadrerickson@yahoo.com Sent: Tuesday, August 29, 2017 2:53 PM Subject: [New post] the not-so-secretive Sora #yiv6951741899 a:hover {color:red;}#yiv6951741899 a {text-decoration:none;color:#0088cc;}#yiv6951741899 a.yiv6951741899primaryactionlink:link, #yiv6951741899 a.yiv6951741899primaryactionlink:visited {background-color:#2585B2;color:#fff;}#yiv6951741899 a.yiv6951741899primaryactionlink:hover, #yiv6951741899 a.yiv6951741899primaryactionlink:active {background-color:#11729E;color:#fff;}#yiv6951741899 WordPress.com | Sue posted: “Soras are a type of marsh bird that I rarely see because they are usually tucked away deep in the vegetation, obscured by tall stems and leafy plumes.  But this morning, a couple of Soras ventured out into the open water on the edges of the Mississippi ma” | |

Please Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s