The sora.  photo by Douglas Beall
The sora. photo by Douglas Beall
The sora (Porzana carolina) is the most common and widely distributed rail in North America. It is sometimes also referred to as the sora rail or sora crake.

Although shot in large numbers every year, their high reproductive rate enables them to maintain a stable population.

A variety of calls are made, including ker-wee or sor-ee, wheep, and quink-quink-quink. The song is a loud, descending, nasal whinny. Like other rails, it is easily heard in marsh habitat but difficult to see. It takes some patience to find them, and listening is the first step to discovery.

Their greatest threat is the destruction of the freshwater marshes where they breed; they have consequently become scarce in heavily populated areas.

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.

A group of soras are collectively known as an “ache,” “expression,” and “whinny” of soras. For more sora photos visit www.abirdsingsbecauseithasasong.com/recent-journeys.