Birds Living by Richard Stade - RStade

Common Moorhen – Foraging

Gallinula chloropus

February – Texas

L=14” ...... WS=21”...... WT=11 oz Order: Gruiformes (Rails, Cranes, and Allies) Family: Rallifae (Rails, Gallinules and Coots)

The Common Moorhen is a rail with behavioral and appearance characteristics intermediate between the American Coot and Purple Gallinule. It is widespread in the Eastern United States and locally in the Western U.S. The mature bird has a striking appearance, especially its bright red and yellow bill, and makes a variety of loud and unusual calls. Common Moorhens forage for plant materials and micro invertebrates on the water’s surface, along the shoreline, and in submerged plants. In addition to inhabiting the continental United States there is an endemic subspecies with very similar appearance in Hawaii. In Hawaiian mythology, a moorhen brought fire to humans and in the journey the fire scorched the bird, explaining the red on the bill and forehead(†).

(†) Pukui, Mary Kawena, ‘Olelo No’eau: Hawaiin Proverbs & Poetical Sayings. Honolulu: Bishop Museum Press, 1983