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Gallinula galeata

Common Gallinule

  • Order: Gruiformes
  • Family: Rallidae


Gallinula chloropus

location unknown; © Glenn Bartley

The Common Moorhen is among the world’s most widespread species, being found even on remote islands such as the Galapagos and Hawaii! Recently vocal differences between New World and Old World forms, as well as differences in shield shape and genetics have been published. This led at least one taxonomic authority to separate the Old World (chloropus) from the New World (cachinnans) groups as separate species, and it is likely that other taxonomic bodies will follow a similar path. As such one of the most contested English name changes may be resolved. The Common Moorhen name came during a period of standardization of names, choosing the Old World Moorhen to apply even to the New World population where “moors” are not found. So the old name Common Gallinule, matching the genus name, may prevail for the New World bird. The Moorhen is common in various marsh habitats, including Altiplano wetlands in South America. While it swims when foraging, the moorhen keeps close to the cover of emergent vegetation and hides readily when disturbed. The voice of the New World population is a chattering laugh. Common Moorhens are blackish-gray with a pale stripe on the flanks, and a vivid reddish shield and yellow bill.

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Recommended Citation

. 2010. Common Gallinule (Gallinula galeata), Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; retrieved from Neotropical Birds Online:

This map is based on the maps available from the NatureServe InfoNatura website. The data for these maps are provided by NatureServe in collaboration with Robert Ridgely, James Zook, The Nature Conservancy - Migratory Bird Program, Conservation International - CABS, World Wildlife Fund - US, and Environment Canada - WILDSPACE.

  • Migration/Movement:Complex Migrant
  • Primary Habitat:Freshwater marshes
  • Foraging Strata:Water (surface)
  • Foraging Behavior:Reach
  • Diet:
  • Sociality:Single-Species Flocks
  • Mating System:
  • Nest Form:Platform
  • Clutch: -
  • IUCN Status:Least Concern