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Sora, Laure Wilson Neish
Photo © Laure Wilson Neish

Photo: Laure Wilson Neish
Breeding evidence - Sora
Breeding evidence
Probability of observation - Sora
Probability of observation
Elevation plot - Sora
Elevation plot

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Porzana carolina
Landscape associations:

Click on plot to view table of mean abundance
Elevation range:
10 - 1197 m
Conserv. status:
Not at risk
Global importance
of B.C. population:
Number of squares
ConfirmedProbablePossiblePoint counts
51 93 384 110
Long-term BBS trends
RegionYearsTrend (conf. interv.) Reliab.
Brit. Col.1970 - 2012 0.729 (-1.42 - 2.94)Medium
Canada1970 - 2012 0.871 (-0.68 - 2.17)High

Mean abundance by region

Bird Conservation Regions [plot]
NW Interior ForestBoreal Taiga PlainsGreat BasinNorthern RockiesN. Pacific Rainforest
0.070.06 0.110.1 0.07
Ecoprovinces [plot]
N. Boreal Mountains Taiga Plains Boreal Plains Georgia Depression Sub-Boreal Interior
0.070.05 0.070.07 0.05
S. Interior Mountains Central Interior Southern Interior S. Alaska Mountains Coast & Mountains
0.090.12 0.12  0.07

Mean abundance by habitat [plot]

Boreal Altai Fescue AlpineBoreal White and Black SpruceBunchgrassCoastal Douglas-fir
Coastal Mountain-heather AlpineCoastal Western HemlockEngelmann Spruce -- Subalpine FirInterior Cedar -- Hemlock
 0.07 0.07
Interior Douglas-firInterior Mountain-heather AlpineMontane SpruceMountain Hemlock
0.12 0.05 
Ponderosa PineSpruce -- Willow -- BirchSub-Boreal Pine -- SpruceSub-Boreal Spruce
0.14 0.180.07

Characteristics and Range This secretive rail is far more often heard than seen, but the patience required to wait for a Sora to emerge from concealing vegetation is richly rewarded by a rather stunning bird with a bright yellow bill, black face, soft grey neck and flashing white undertail. Soras frequently call around dusk and after dark, so late evening listening searches of potentially suitable habitat in early summer are an effective way of assessing its presence. Soras breed across much of the Boreal Forest, the Great Lakes, the Prairies and through most western basins of North America, and migrate quite long distances to winter in suitable wetland habitats along Pacific, Atlantic and Gulf coasts through Central America and the Caribbean to northern South America (Melvin and Gibbs 2012).

Distribution, Abundance, and Habitat The Sora occurs widely at low to middle elevations through much of interior British Columbia east of the Coast Mountains and in the Georgia Depression, including the northeastern plains. The Atlas mapped a similar provincial distribution to The Birds of British Columbia published in 1990, indicating no change in overall range, but some filling-in of distribution gaps, especially in the Peace River lowlands, in the Lillooet River drainage, across the Interior Plateau and in the Rocky Mountain Trench.

The most extensive areas of higher Probability of Observation match the densest clusters of distribution, on the plateaus of the Central Interior ecoprovince and across the Peace River lowlands. More local high PObs values occur in the valley systems of the Southern Interior and Southern Interior Mountains ecoprovinces, and the PObs model also highlights an expanse covering the Fort Nelson River lowlands in the Taiga Plains as one of the most likely areas to find the species. The Sora is common enough that randomised point counts are an adequate sampling technique (which is not the case with other rails). Point count data show the highest abundances occur in the Central Interior and more locally in the Southern Interior, at elevations between 250 and 500 m (valley floor wetlands). Abundance is slightly lower in the Boreal and Taiga Plains ecoprovinces.

It uses a wide variety of wetland types, both freshwater and brackish, ephemeral and permanent, from marshes, lakes, flooded fields and willow scrub to drainage ditches and sewage lagoons, usually with tall emergent vegetation, especially Cattail (Typha latifolia), and bulrush (Scirpus), reed (Phragmites) or sedge (Cyperaceae) species.

Conservation and Recommendations Sora populations are stable across much of the species range, including in British Columbia. The primary concern is maintenance of a network of wetlands throughout the migratory and wintering ranges; wetland habitat loss and modification especially along migratory routes in the United States is a concern. It is also hunted quite extensively, but the population-level impact of hunting is not well studied (Melvin and Gibbs 2012).

Peter J. A. Davidson

Recommended citation: Davidson, P.J.A. 2015. Sora in Davidson, P.J.A., R.J. Cannings, A.R. Couturier, D. Lepage, and C.M. Di Corrado (eds.). The Atlas of the Breeding Birds of British Columbia, 2008-2012. Bird Studies Canada. Delta, B.C. [28 May 2024]

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