Thursday, May 1, 2014


Yesterday, 30 April 2014, John Holden and I drove up Eaton Ave just south of Northfield. I glimpsed a small rail run into a roadside cattail patch. We stopped, backed up, and squeaked at the marsh. To our delight, two Sora rails nonchalantly strolled out of the marsh and fed along its edge. I was able to take these photos, my best to date of this abundant and widespread, but otherwise somewhat elusive rail. In the first two photos, note the breast feathers being blown by the wind. In the last photo you can see the Sora's long, unwebbed toes.
This species breeds in freshwater marshes across much of North America. They are more often heard than seen. Their abundance can be appreciated once you learn the Sora's whinnying call. I have a link to that call in a previous post. If you think that playing tapes at birds is ethical, Sora's often approach playbacks of their calls.

Soras eat seeds and invertebrates. These birds appeared to be feeding on tiny invertebrates, despite this week's being cold and rainy. Soras are considered to be game birds in many parts of the United States and Canada. Nevertheless, little is known about Sora population trends. The practice of draining and developing wetlands can not be doing Soras any good.


  1. "squeaked at the marsh"
    What does this mean?

  2. We put our hands to our lips and made squeaky sounds like birders often do...

    1. Thanks for the clarification. I'm mostly self-taught on birding so this is new to me.
      What kinds of birds does this work for? Is this much different than pishing?

    2. Pishing and squeaking are interesting subjects. Pishing tells birds, “there is danger nearby, but I am not about to tell you exactly where in case I am attacked.” Squeeking, on the other hand, says, “There is danger right here, come help me distract the predator!” These two sounds are recognized by many bird species.