Adult Soras are 19 to 30 cm (7.5 to 12 in) long, with dark-marked brown upperparts, a blue-grey face and underparts, and black and white barring on the flanks. They have a short thick yellow bill, with black markings on the face at the base of the bill and on the throat. Sexes are similar, but young Soras lack the black facial markings and have a whitish face and buff breast. They weigh about 49 to 112 g .

Habitat and Distribution

Soras breed in marshes from Nova Scotia northeast to southern Yukon and Northwest Territories, south to California, Arizona, and New Mexico and northeast to Pennsylvania and New England. The birds winter north of South America, including Ecuador, Columbia, and Venezuela, north through Central America and Mexico to southern California. Water and emergent vegetation are their favourite habitat.


These birds forage in water. Their diet includes snails, crustaceans, spiders, and insects (beetles, grasshoppers, flies). They also take plant seeds.


The breeding season is from April to August. Soras make a saucer-shaped nest on the ground or on a platform over shallow water. The clutch size is typically 8 to 13 eggs. Both parents incubate the eggs. Incubation lasts approximately 19 days. The young fledge within a month.

Calls and Songs

The call of a Sora bird is a slow whistled ker-whee, or a descending whinny.