Notice for readers: On March 31, Neotropical Birds will be integrated into the new Birds of the World, a powerful research database offering species accounts for every species on earth. Learn more at While Birds of the World is a subscription service, we remain committed to offering this content to Neotropical Birds contributors and to those unable to pay for it through our scholarship program. Stay tuned.

Common Gallinule Gallinula galeata


Common Gallinule is among the Western Hemisphere’s most widespread species, being found even on remote islands such as the Galapagos and Hawaii! Formerly this species was considered to be part of Eurasian Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus), but vocal differences between New World and Old World forms, as well as differences in shield shape and genetics, have led to the New and Old World populations being recognized as separate species. Common Gallinule indeed is common in various marsh habitats, including altiplano wetlands in South America. While it swims when foraging, the gallinule keeps close to the cover of emergent vegetation and hides readily when disturbed. The voice of Common Gallinule is a chattering laugh. In appearance, both Common Gallinule and Eurasian Moorhens are similar in appearance: blackish gray with a pale stripe along the flanks, and a vivid reddish shield and yellow bill.

Help complete this species

There are many ways to contribute—we need species information, photographs, audio, video, translations, maps, distribution data, and bird sightings. There's a role for everyone!

Learn more


© Paul Marvin

  • Year-round
  • Migration
  • Breeding
  • Non-Breeding

Recommended Citation

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