The Secretive Sora Bird

As a wildlife photographer, there are few things more thrilling than capturing the perfect shot of a rare and elusive creature. And when it comes to birds, the Sora is definitely one of the trickiest subjects to photograph. Known for its shy and secretive nature, this small waterbird can be quite difficult to spot, let alone capture on camera.

Fortunately, I was able to get lucky and get some shots of a Sora during a recent visit to the Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge in Oklahoma. As I was taking photos of a Red-winged Blackbird feeding on the ground near the auto tour road, I noticed movement out of the corner of my eye. To my delight, a Sora had emerged from the vegetation and was busy foraging for food, which appeared to be snails.

Sora Bird
Sora Bird

Of course, photographing a bird as skittish as a Sora is no easy feat, especially when you’re shooting with a long lens like the Canon EF 500 mm f/4L IS USM, which I had equipped with a Canon 1.4x III extender. To stabilize my setup, I used a bean bag draped over the open window of my pickup, but even so, the bird’s proximity to my vehicle made it a challenge to get a clear shot.

Despite the difficulties, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to photograph this elusive bird. In addition to its secretive nature, the Sora is also known for its distinctive appearance. With its brown and black feathers, white undertail coverts, and yellow bill, it’s a unique and beautiful bird that’s well worth the effort to capture on camera.

Interestingly, the Sora is also known for its ability to swim and dive, which is unusual for a bird of its size and shape. It uses its long toes to help it navigate through wetland habitats, where it feeds on a variety of insects, snails, and small fish.

All in all, my encounter with the Sora was a thrilling experience that reminded me of why I love wildlife photography. With a little bit of patience and a lot of luck, you never know what kind of amazing shots you might be able to capture.

I was using a Canon EOS 7D Mark II camera.

Taken on April 30, 2020

Camera Settings

  • AV Mode
  • Aperture f8.0
  • ISO 640
  • Shutter speed – 1/1000 sec.
  • Exposure Compensation: +1 EV
  • Focal Length: 700 mm

Here is another bird I got lucky to photograph: Orchard Oriole