Common MoorhenGallinula chloropus

  • Wetlands
  • Avifauna
  • Moorhen


G. chloropus, also called the water hen or the swamp chicken is a species of the Rallidae family, of small to medium-sized, ground-living birds. Their habitat ranges from Africa, Asia to Europe, except in the polar regions and tropical rainforests. Juveniles are brownish and lack a frontal shield. Adults on the other hand are recognized by their dark plumage, white undertail, yellow legs and a red frontal shield with a rounded top. Common moorhens exhibit a wide range of gargling calls. If threatened, the species can emit a loud hiss. Adults typically measure between 30 to 38 centimeters in length.


Habitat and ecology

The Common moorhen dwells in vegetated marshes, ponds, canals and wetlands and also occur in city parks. The birds feed on a wide variety of vegetation and small aquatic creatures, foraging beside the water’s edge or upending in the water. During the breeding season, they can become territorial. They build their nests, which are basket shaped, on the ground in dense vegetation. Each female will lay approximately eight eggs, and second broods may contain less eggs than the first one. Males and females both incubate the eggs and care for the young. The young will fledge after 40 to 50 days.


Conservation and management

The population trend and range warrant this species to be listed as ‘Least Concern’ in the IUCN Red List of Species. Common moorhens, however, are vulnerable to the avian influenza and avian botulism. Future outbreaks of these diseases may pose threats to local populations.

Did you know?

If threatened, the young can cling to their parents’ body, while the parent flies to safety.