Speaker at Shady Side Event to Talk About Elusive Marsh Bird ‘Sora Rail’
The Capt. Salem Avery House in Shady Side will host a Friday Night Coffee Sept. 21, with guest speaker Greg Kearns, a Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission naturalist. Kearns will talk about Sora Rail an elusive bird of the marshes. The coffee and desserts will be served at 7 p.m. and the program will start at 7:30 p.m.
The Sora Rail is a small marsh bird that lives in marshes throughout North America. It is the most common and widely distributed rail in North America, according to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.
The bird, however, is easier to hear than see. Listen here for the two-noted “sor-AH,” followed by a high-pitched whinny of the bird. These small marsh birds winter over in southern North America or Northern South America.
Organizers said that Kearn’s interest in the Sora Rail began in 1987 at Jug Bay in Lothian. He is assigned there and has conducted ground-breaking research. Kearns had been banding the birds each year. At one point, he had banded more than 4,000 Rails. However, by the year 2000, he only banded 100. Kearns and biologist Mike Haramis linked the decline to a 95 percent decline in the stands of wild rice.
Who was to blame for the disappearance of the wild rice? Canada Geese. The geese can eat one to two pounds of wild rice per day, per bird. Kearns’ study resulted in a full-scale restoration effort. He implemented a goose management plan that involved public landowners at Jug Bay and the installation of four miles of fencing to keep the geese out of the wild rice plots. There has been a dramatic recovery for the bird. Today the wild rice has recovered close to the amount there twenty years ago.
When Kearns appeared at the Capt. Avery Museum during the winter luncheon, he spoke on Osprey. He also lead an Osprey banding trip organized by the museum. The talk on the rails should be equally enlightening.
Admission to the coffee and talk is $10 for members and $13 for non-members. Reservations may be made by calling the Museum office at 410-867-4486. For more information, please check the Museum’s web site, . Corporate sponsors of the Museulm are Greenstreet Gardens and BayVue Consultling, Inc.