Saturday, December 13, 2014

Common Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus)

(31 cm.) Black; red frontal shield; short bill; line of white streaks across flanks; two white patches under tail
The Common Moorhen is an unmistakable member of the rail family, “Rallidae.” It is a large species of rail, and it is far more conspicuous than many members of its family. Rails are generally skulking birds of swamps which hide deep within tall stands of reeds. The Common Moorhen makes its presence far more obvious by noisily walking on pond and swamp vegetation or swimming out in open water like a duck. The bird gets its name from the old English word, “moor” which means marsh or swamp. In North America, it is called the “Common Gallinule.”

This species is very attractive in its uniformly slate black plumage with white streaks on its flanks. The legs and feet of the bird are yellow. The bill is green with a red base that extends up the bird’s face to form a noticeable and odd-looking frontal shield. The species displays a persistent habit of flicking its tail.

The bird is another extremely widespread and common species that is found throughout most of the world. It is not found in polar regions, or throughout much of the tropics.  Throughout its range, this species lives in lakes, ponds, and swamps which offer ample open water.

The Common Moorhen is another omnivorous species that will consume a large variety of foods. It feeds on various aquatic vegetation and aquatic creatures.

This species will generally breed in early spring in most of its breeding range. The female moorhen builds a basket-like nest on the ground among the thick vegetation and lays around 8 eggs. Both parents share the duties of incubating the eggs and the feeding of young chicks after hatching.

Common Moorhen (Photo by Andreas Trepte,

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