The Common Gallinule (Gallinula galeata) is a bird in the family Rallidae. It was split from the Common Moorhen by the American Ornithologists’ Union in July 2011. It lives around well-vegetated marshes, ponds, canals, and other wetlands in the Americas. The species is not found in the polar regions or many tropical rainforests. Elsewhere, the Common Gallinule is likely the most commonly seen rail species in much of North America, excepting the American Coot in some regions.
The Gallinule has dark plumage apart from the white under-tail, yellow legs, and a red frontal shield. The young are browner and lack the red shield. It has a wide range of gargling calls and will emit loud hisses when threatened. This is a common breeding bird in marsh environments and well-vegetated lakes. Populations in areas where the waters freeze, such as southern Canada and the northern USA, will migrate to more temperate climes. This species will consume a wide variety of vegetable material and small aquatic creatures. It forages beside or in the water, sometimes upending in the water to feed. Its wide feet allow it to hop about on lily pads. It is often secretive but can become tame in some areas. [Wikipedia]
The Common Gallinule inhabits marshes and ponds from Canada to Chile. Vocal and boldly marked with a brilliant red shield over the bill, the species can be quite conspicuous. It sometimes uses its long toes to walk atop floating vegetation. This species was formerly called the Common Moorhen and is closely related to Moorhen species in the Old World. [All About Birds]
Common Gallinule Facts [All About Birds]
- The Common Gallinule has long toes that make it possible to walk on soft mud and floating vegetation. The toes have no lobes or webbing to help in swimming, but the Moorhen is a good swimmer anyway.
- One subspecies of the Common Gallinule is found only in the Hawaiian Islands and has been known as the Hawaiian Moorhen, or ‘alae ‘ula.
- Newly hatched chicks of the Common Gallinule have spurs on their wings that help them climb into the nest or grab emergent vegetation.
- The oldest recorded Common Gallinule was at least 9 years, 10 months old when it was recaptured in Louisiana in 1940, during some of the very earliest banding studies in the U.S.