Wild Birds

Sora (Crake) aka Sora Rail or Sora Crake

The Sora (Porzana carolina) is a small waterbird of the family Rallidae, sometimes also referred to as the Sora Rail or Sora Crake.

Distribution / Habitat

The Sora’s breeding habitat is marshes throughout much of North America.

They migrate to the southern United States and northern South America. Sora is a very rare vagrant to western Europe, where it can be confused with Spotted Crake. However, the latter species always has spotting on the breast. a streaked crown stripe, and a different wing pattern.

Although Soras are more often heard than seen, they are sometimes seen walking near open water.

They are fairly common, despite a decrease in suitable habitat in recent times.


Adult Soras are 20–25 centimetres (7.9–9.8 in) long, with dark-marked brown upperparts, a blue-grey face and underparts, and black and white barring on the flanks. They have a short thick yellow bill, with black markings on the face at the base of the bill and on the throat.

Males and females look alike, but young Soras lack the black facial markings and have a whitish face and buff breast.

They weigh about 49–112 grams (1.7–4.0 oz).

Breeding / Nesting

They nest in a well-concealed location in dense vegetation. The female usually lays 10 to 12 eggs, sometimes as many as 18, in a cup built from marsh vegetation. The eggs do not all hatch together. Both parents incubate and feed the young, who leave the nest soon after they hatch and are able to fly within a month.


The Sora Crake feed on both vegetable and animal food. Their diet includes seeds, insects and snails, which they extract from the mud. Soras forage while walking or swimming.

Call / Song

The call is a slow whistled ker-whee, or a descending whinny. The use of call broadcasts greatly increases the chances of hearing a Sora.

Call broadcasts can also increase the chances of seeing a Sora, as they will often investigate the source of the call.


Gordon Ramel

Gordon is an ecologist with two degrees from Exeter University. He's also a teacher, a poet and the owner of 1,152 books. Oh - and he wrote this website.

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