Hey guys, welcome back! Today we have a funny little bird. It’s our first rail, the sora. Somewhat closely related to the American coot which we did a while back, the sora is more of a typical rail. Rails are wading birds kind of like herons, but are more compact and chicken-like. In fact, one of the sora’s nicknames is the meadow chicken. These secretive birds are actually the most widespread rail in the country, but are nonetheless not always easy to spot. Just look at the picture featured in this post. That sora was walking along the edge of some water in the Mentor Marsh near where I live. But it was walking behind and underneath the tall grass at the edge, making it quite difficult to see. In fact, I may have missed it completely had I not been looking for a rare sparrow.
Sora are small birds, roughly the size of a robin believe it or not, although with a much different shape. They are unique in their color pattern as well, sporting a gray face, black mask, and bright yellow bill. That bill is much stubbier than any other rail, which we’ll see later on in this blog when we get to our other rail species. The first sora I saw was a rehabbed and released bird in Central Park. I just happen to be in Central Park’s Ravine (the only really suitable habitat for a sora in the park) shortly after the Wild Bird Fund had released it. I had never even heard of a sora before. I remember watching this weird little chicken-bird walking around at the stream edge. I’m not sure how they got it, or what the nature of its injury was, but it looked pretty healthy, and left the park shortly thereafter. Of sourse that opened up the whole “does a rehabbed bird count on your lifelist” debate. But it was well within its range. But, as I mentioned before, I’ve seen soras since; last October while looking for a LeConte’s sparrow (and yes I did find the sparrow, but that entry won’t be for a while!) As I write this at the end of March, they’ve started showing up in Ohio again. Perhaps I’ll see more very soon. Next up, a shorebird. One of the two yellowlegs is next. See you all then!