Porzana carolina




Rails, Gallinules and Coots (Rallidae)

Code 4


Code 6



Egg Color:

Buff with brown and gray blotches.

Number of Eggs:

10 - 12

Incubation Days:

18 - 20

Egg Incubator:

Both sexes

Nest Location:

Anchored to vegetation in open water.

Nest Material:

Dried cattail leaves and sedges, lined with fine grasses and rushes.





Sora: Small rail with dark gray-brown upperparts with black-and-white streaks. Breast is gray and flanks and belly are dark gray with white bars. Gray head has darker crown and nape; black mask, chin and throat. Bill is yellow with dark tip. Sexes are similar; female slightly smaller. Winter adult has black throat feathers; gray breast feathers; striking head pattern; yellow bill with greenish tip; gray foreneck and breast with no spots. Juvenile upperparts and wings like adult; more white streaks, olive brown to buff on head, neck and breast.

Range and Habitat

Sora: Breeds from southeastern Alaska, east to Newfoundland, and south locally to northwestern California, southern New Mexico, eastern Colorado, Iowa, central Ohio, and Maryland. Winters from central California, to southern Texas and the Gulf Coast states, and south through Central America to South America. Prefers freshwater marshes, flooded fields, and swamps.

Breeding and Nesting

Sora: Ten to twelve buff eggs with brown and gray blotches are laid in a shallow basket of cattails, dry leaves, grass, and reeds, and attached to stalks of dense, living vegetation; nest is usually built over or adjacent to water. Both parents incubate the eggs for 18 to 20 days.

Foraging and Feeding

Sora: Their diet consists of mollusks, insects, snails, seeds of marsh plants and wetland plants, aquatic invertebrates and duckweed. They forage for food by raking floating vegetation with their feet or pulling aside vegetation with their bill and visually searching for food. They use their short, chicken like bill to peck from the water surface. They generally feed from a standing position.


Sora: Song is a rapid, descending whinny of very short, shrill "dee" notes. In spring utters an ascending "ner-wee."

Similar Species

Sora: Adult is unmistakable; Yellow Rail is much smaller, shows white wing patch in flight, and is grayer overall than juvenile Sora.

Back, rump, hindneck, wings, and crown.
The ventral part of the bird, or the area between the flanks on each side and the crissum and breast. Flight muscles are located between the belly and the breast.
The upper front part of a bird.
The area of the face just below the bill.
The crown is the top part of the birds head.
Also called the jugulum or throat patch, it is located on the front of the neck.
Parts of a Standing bird X
Head Feathers and Markings X
Parts of a Flying bird X