Tuesday, November 29, 2016

A Sora at Merced National Wildlife Refuge!

I have to warn you, the bird in the following photos may not inspire awe and wonder as well as some other species might.  It's just a little brown thing that at first glance looks a bit like a chicken-duck blend.  But this little guy is a special bird, because although they are widely distributed across North America, they are infrequently seen.

This unassuming and secretive marsh bird is a Sora (Porzana Carolina), of the family Rallidae, which also includes Rails, Gallinules and Coots.  And I will confess, I was extremely excited to get this photo!


Soras are not a very well-known species, and even their page on Cornell's All About Birds site is rather empty compared to many others.  They are year-round residents of California's Great Central Valley, breeding in freshwater marshes that boast an ample supply of vegetation, such as cattails and tule reeds.  Soras forage on the ground for seeds and aquatic invertebrates.


I may have implied that this bird's appearance is unimpressive, but I would like to remind you that I said at first glance.  As is often the case, when you take a moment to look a little closer, you will find plenty of praiseworthy features.  The Sora has a bright yellow bill, along with yellow unwebbed feet.  Deep burgundy eyes are set in a roguish black mask, and white markings highlight its rich chocolatey feathers.  And I find the Sora's rather stumpy little tail cute!

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