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Bird Watch: Sora

By Brian M. Collins
Published: July 1, 2009
As greenery reaches peak growth in the cattail marshes of cabin country, the sora will be sure to declare to anyone who will listen that this soggy turf is his for the summer. As enthusiastic, witty and loud as his proclamations may be, few people know anything about this remarkably common and colorful chicken-like marsh dweller.

Soras have adapted beautifully to life among the cattails and flooded pools. Their narrow bodies are adept at slinking between the reeds, and a combination of olive drab camouflage on the back and bold barring along the flanks allows this bird to disappear by merely standing still. Extremely long toes and lightly fluttering wings help the sora to dance about the bent and sinking reeds as it practically walks on water.

In a world of obstructed views and flooded pools, soras use their loud calls to communicate territorial boundaries and to find their mates. When completely enamored with each other, soras build a woven nest crafted of cattails and fill it chock full of eggs. The chicks hatch as tiny black balls of fuzz on longtoed stilts that are ready to run in no time at all.

Brian M. Collins is a high school biology teacher, contract bird biologist, and wildlife photographer. Enjoy his photography at www.imagesinnaturallight.com.
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