Common Moorhen

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Common Moorhen
Conservation status: Secure
Missing image
Moorhen.slimb.750pix.jpg
Common Moorhen


Common Moorhen
Scientific classification
Kingdom:Animalia
Phylum:Chordata
Class:Aves
Order:Gruiformes
Family:Rallidae
Genus:Gallinula
Species:G. chloropus
Binomial name
Gallinula chloropus
Linnaeus, 1758

The Common Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus) is a bird in the rail family with an almost worldwide distribution outside Antarctica and Australasia. In North America it was previously called the Common Gallinule.

This is a common breeding bird in marshy environments and well-vegetated lakes. It is often secretive, but can become tame in some areas. Populations in areas where the waters freeze, such as southern Canada, the northern USA and eastern Europe, will migrate to more temperate climes.

This is a distinctive species, with dark plumage apart from the white undertail, yellow legs and a red facial shield. The young are browner and lack the red shield. It has a wide range of gargling calls.

This species will consume a wide variety of vegetable material and small aquatic creatures. They forage while swimming, sometimes upending to feed, or walking through the marsh.

The nest is a roofed basket built on the ground in dense vegetation. 4-8 eggs are laid, which are incubated for about three weeks. Both parents incubate and feed the young. More than one brood may be raised in a year.

Despite loss of habitat in parts of its range, this bird remains common and widespread.

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