Bird Database


(Porzana carolina)

State of the Birds
At a Glance







Wetland loss, Invasive species, Altered wetland hydrology

Conservation Actions

Protect wetlands


(Porzana carolina)

The Sora is the smaller and rarer of New Hampshire’s two species of rails, and its scarcity makes it much harder to determine its status in the state. It has apparently always been uncommon, and often believed to be overlooked because of its secretive behavior. During the Breeding Bird Atlas in the early 1980s, Soras were concentrated in southeastern New Hampshire, with scattered records in the Lakes Region and north of the White Mountains. This is more or less the distribution in the 2020s as well, with the addition of several records in the Connecticut River Valley.

Another challenge with Soras is they often don’t persist in an area for multiple years. Of the over 20 sites with the species in the early 2020s, only two (both in Salem) hosted the species for more than two years, despite frequent visits to most sites throughout the period. Although Soras are known to move among wetlands in response to changing water levels, most New Hampshire locations do not seem to vary in this regard. Instead, our intermittent Sora occupancy may be due to our position at the edge of the species’ range. Although presumably suitable wetlands are widespread in the Grante State, they are even more pervasive in western Canada and the Great Plains, where the bulk of the global Sora population resides.

Soras are slightly more common in migration, and people who find them in May are encouraged to follow up on those locations in June and July. The rails get less vocal as the breeding season progresses but can be goaded into vocalizing through the judicious use of recordings. Among their varied calls, the most common are a descending whinny and two note “per-wee” that’s uttered in a series, and usually precedes the whinny. Soras can be found in a wide variety of wetlands, but typically prefer shallow ones with dense areas of cattails or other emergent plants. There are rare records of it nesting in salt marshes, but these are more likely used during migration or winter in the southeastern United States or Caribbean.

Seasonal Abundance

Relative abundance based on eBird data. Numbers indicate likelihood of finding this species in suitable habitat at a given time of year, not actual numbers encountered.

Range Map

Information for the species profiles on this website was compiled from a combination of the sources listed below.

  • The Birds of New Hampshire. By Allan R. Keith and Robert B. Fox. 2013. Memoirs of the Nuttall Ornithological club No. 19.

  • Atlas of the Breeding Birds of New Hampshire. Carol R. Foss, ed. 1994. Arcadia Publishing Company and Audubon Society of New Hampshire

  • Birds of the World. Various authors and dates. Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology.

  • Data from the Breeding Bird Survey

  • Data from the Christmas Bird Count