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Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center

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Forest and Rangeland Birds of the United States

Natural History and Habitat Use

Sora -- Porzana carolina

RANGE: Breeds from southern Yukon and west-central and southwestern Mackenzie to west-central and southern Quebec and southwestern Newfoundland, south locally to Baja California, central Arizona, New Mexico, central Illinois, and Maryland. Winters from central California to the Gulf Coast and southern South Carolina south to South America; occasionally north to southern Canada.

STATUS: Common.

HABITAT: Prefers freshwater marshes, but also inhabits brackish and salt marshes, ponds, swamps, bogs, wet grassy meadows, and sloughs, especially those with sedges and cattails. In late summer, concentrates in areas where food is plentiful such as in rice fields or other seed-producing areas.

SPECIAL HABITAT REQUIREMENTS: Wetlands with abundant, dense vegetation.

NEST: Constructs a well-concealed nest that may be fastened to or supported by reed stems on a raised platform of vegetation. Locates nest 6 inches to over a foot above water, or occasionally on the ground. Generally nests over water 6 to 8 inches deep, preferably among sedges.

FOOD: Primarily feeds on small mollusks and insects except in the fall; then relies heavily on seeds in freshwater habitats and animal foods in brackish areas. Also eats insects, mollusks, worms, crustaceans, and small tadpoles. Eats seeds and leaves for most of the vegetative portion of the diet.

REFERENCES: DeGraff et al. 1980, Horak 1970, Johnsgard 1975a, Low and Mansell 1983, Meanley 1965, Odom 1977, Walkinshaw 1940, Webster 1964.

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