SORA (Porzana carolina) – (See images below)
DESCRIPTION: The Sora has dark brown upper parts and blue-grey under parts. The flanks are finely barred. It has a large, conical yellow bill. Sexes are similar. This bird measures up to 30 cm (12 inches) long.
NAME: The English name probably comes from a Native American language, and the Latin genus name ‘Porzana’ refers to a small rail. As for the Latin species name ‘carolina’, it refers to the location where the first specimen was found.
HABITAT:  Wetlands such as marshes with tall vegetation like cattails for good cover.
DIET: Plant material, insects and other invertebrates.
NESTING: The nest is a flat floating platform hidden in dense emergent vegetation. Around ten creamy eggs are laid, which are incubated by both parents.
DISTRIBUTION:  The sora breeding range includes most of Canada and the USA, and it winters along the coast in southeast USA, in Mexico and Central America. Some individuals have been able to reach Hawaii. (See note below on bird vagrancy.)
Distribution map:
ON PEI: The sora breeds on PEI and is common (which does not mean it is easy to see).
CONSERVATION: The sora rail is hunted in many states and provinces during fall migration, for example in rice marshes. However its overall population appears stable and the bird is listed as of ‘least concern’.
NOTES: The sora is a difficult to see small shorebird that is part of the gallinule and rail family.
Vagrancy: In biology this means an animal going way outside its normal range. For birds, this can happen when there are storms and they get blown off course. On other times, the bird simply wanders in a different direction than usual. Here’s an article about vagrancy in birds.
SIMILAR SPECIES: Virginia Rail, Yellow Rail
REFERENCES: (New Hampshire PBS) (Maritimes Breeding Bird Atlas)

Sora – Cap Tourmente National Wildlife Area, QC – photo by Cephas
Sora, Cap Tourmente, QC, by Cephas