Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Sora Out of Water

Sora (Porzana carolina) [Image from an Internet source]
This morning, two of my preserve's best birders and nature photographers stopped in the office after a morning photo shoot to report that they had found and rescued a Sora (Porzana carolina) on a trail through our tall native grasslands.  The Sora was alive (though clearly injured or sick); the birders planned to take it to a wildlife rehabilitation facility to see if it could be saved.

Two years ago, a birder found a Sora on another of our grassland trails, but that bird was dead. 

I have no idea why a fairly uncommon bird almost always associated with marshes would be found high and dry in the prairie-like grasslands we have established on parts of our preserve.  Nor do I have any idea why these birds are in bad shape.  It's great that they're here, but not if our preserve is acting as a "sink" in which the birds fall victim to predators or disease. 


packrat said...

My research shows that the Sora is a summer resident in your neck of the woods, Scott, but a year-round resident in parts of New Mexico. I must plead ignorance here: I've never heard of the bird until just now.

You may be slightly surprised to find it in your preserve, but not nearly as surprised as the people who found a piranha in the Rio Grande near El Paso several years ago.


Minnie said...

How curious and sad. I'm glad the birders knew what to do. Please report if you find out why soras are out of their habitat.

robin andrea said...

That really is such a beautiful bird and so interesting that two have wound up at the preserve, out of water. It may be that whatever sickness they have precedes their disorientation, which is why they end up there. I hope this one can be restored to good health.

Scott said...

Packrat: I consulted with my preserve's premier birder, who told me that the birds almost assuredly were migrants, not residents. Soras just barely make it into southeastern Pennsylvania for breeding (they prefer to breed much further north; we're an outlier, if they're here at all). My birder was just as perplexed about what might have caused the injury or sickness.

Honest to goodness, we had alligators in our creek about 10 years ago. When a walker told me he had seen an alligator, I wanted to ask him what he was smoking, but there really were alligators--two of them, one about 4 feet, and one about 3 feet, probably released by someone who could no longer handle the reptiles in whatever setup he had for them. Both went to a "Reptile-land" attraction near Harrisburg.

Scott said...

Minnie: My "Atlas of Breeding Birds of Pennsylvania" says that Soras are most often found in shallow marshes with emergent vegetation, but that they can also be found in grain fields. I suppose our prairie-like warm-season grasslands are akin to grain fields, so maybe it's not crazy that they were found along the high and dry trail.

Incidentally, the bird didn't live until the birders got it to the wildlife rehab center, but the vet said they were going to perform a necropsy. Maybe we'll learn something.

Scott said...

Robin Andrea: Yes, the bird was beautiful and we're all perplexed about what might be causing these problems. The birder told me today that the bird had a bit of blood oozing out of its mouth. (It didn't make it to the rehab canter, but died en route.)

Mark P said...

I'm sorry to hear the bird didn't make it, but that's the way nature works. If it was nature and not something more sinister.

Scott said...

Agreed, Mark. Now I'm starting to wonder if maybe the bird was hit/run over by one of my employees driving our utility quad on the grassland trails. The quad is really useful for saving time, but I hate it; it's noisy and it makes my guys lazy and careless.