This week’s Bird of the Week, compliments of the Weminuche Audubon Society and Audubon Rockies, is the sora.
The sora is another marshland bird that can be seen here by the patient observer. Spotting this colorful bird may require waiting for it to emerge from dense vegetation to feed in the open. Loud calls from deep within the cattails, especially during breeding season, can alert you to its presence and induce you to stick around.
An adult sora is a small, chubby bird with a mottled brown back, black and white banding on the underside, and a gray face with a black mask. Its thick, stubby, yellow bill distinguishes it from the similar Virginia rail whose bill is longer and orange. Long toes allow the sora to walk on floating vegetation and are used to rake the bottom for food. Its short tail is usually held upright, exposing white undersides.
Inhabitants of freshwater wetlands with cattails, sedges and rushes, the sora feeds primarily on seeds, but also eats invertebrates, including snails, dragonflies, flies and beetles.
Soras are the most numerous and widespread members of the rail family in North America. Although they are known to migrate long distances, as far as Central and South America, for the winter, our warm water wetlands along the Riverwalk allow at least a few individuals to stay here well into winter.
Like many of the bird species identified in Audubon’s recent report, “Survival by Degrees,” the sora’s range is predicted to shift north in a warming climate.
For information on local bird-watching events, visit www.weminucheaudubon.org and www.facebook.com/weminucheaudubon/.