General description.

The Sora is a member of the rail family with interesting markings. Besides the black face and patch on its troat, it sports a gray neck and breast, mottled brown upper parts and black and white bands around its abdomen. It is distinguished from the only other similarlly sized fresh water rail, the Virginia Rail, by its short yellow bill.

Juvenile appearance.

The immature Sora is buffy brown and lacking the black throat patch.

Flight pattern.

If surprised, the Sora will fly a short distance, then run. Although reluctant fliers, some will travel twice a year for 2000 miles or more.

Breeding habits.

The Sora breeds across Canada and the northern United States.

Calls or song.

The Sora produces one of the most distinctive calls of any marsh bird; a descending horselike whinny, "whee-hee-hee-hee-hee-hee". In defending its nest, the Sora will utter a sharp, "keek". One other sound it emits is a plaintive whistled "ker-wee".

Population and distribution.

Although common, the Sora is rarely seen. It inhabits freshwater marshes and ponds, rice fields and, in winter, salt water marshes. It winters along both coasts north to California and Virginia, as well as the Gulf Coast. And frequently it migrates as far as the West Indies and Latin America.

Nesting habits.

The prolific Sora lays 6-15 pale yellow eggs, spotted with brown. The nest is a cup of cattails and dead leaves, constructed within a clump of reeds in open marsh.
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