Sep 09 2015
Soras (Porzana carolina) are the most abundant rail in North America but they’re so elusive that we rarely see them fly. When disturbed they prefer to walk deep into the marsh rather than go airborne. If you happen to flush one it looks weak and labored in the air.
Though they appear to be fly poorly, soras migrate long distances. They’re very cold sensitive so they have to leave before the weather turns. Birds of North America says they become lethargic as the temperature approaches freezing so “most soras winter in areas that have a minimum January temperature above –1°C (30°F).”
From their breeding grounds in Canada and the northern/western U.S. to their wintering grounds in the southern U.S. and Central and South America, soras may fly up to 4,000 miles. We don’t see them on migration because (presumably) they fly at night but they’re sometimes found resting on ships hundreds of miles offshore. We know they cross the open ocean. Some of them winter in Bermuda and the Caribbean.
This month soras are hanging out in wetlands en route on migration. If you’re lucky enough to see one, think of its journey — reluctant to fly, except to escape the cold.
(photo by Robert Greene Jr)