Gallinula chloropus


Similar in many respects to Coots, this bird can be seen "bobbing" its head as it swims along. Also, their long toes allow them to easily walk on floating vegetation. Moorhens feed on mosquitoes, spiders, tadpoles, insect larvae, fruits, and seeds. An interesting fact is that the males build a sort of hotel chain during breeding. The males will build several nests throughout their breeding territory that the young can use a resting place while exploring the surrounding marsh.


Slate-gray/black head, neck, breast and belly. Brownish back and upperwings. White stripe on upper flanks. Red bill with a yellow tip and a frontal shield that extends onto forehead. Yellow-green legs and feet. Long toes. Juviniles have a pale gray-brown head and underparts. Dark gray-brown upperparts. Whitish throat and belly. Dark bill with dull yellow tip and a smaller, less red frontal shield. Sexes similar. 13 to 14 inches in length.


Freshwater marshes and ponds. Specifically those with cattails and other aquatic vegetation.


7-14 buff colored eggs lightly marked with brown spots. The eggs have a 19-22 day incubation period. Fledging occurs in 40-50+ days. The nest is a platform made of dried cattails, rushes, and other marsh plants. The nest is usually built a few inches above water level.

Observed Locations:

  • Buena Vista Lagoon, Carlsbad
  • Lindo Lake, Lakeside

Click on an image to see the larger version.








Home | References
Copyright © Scott Streit, 2000.