Gallinula chloropus Linnaeus, 1758 (juvenile)
Common names: Common Moorhen, Swamp chicken [En], Gallinule poule-d’eau, Poule d’eau [Fr], Waterhoen [Nl], Teichhuhn [De], Gallinella d'acqua [It], Gallineta Común [Es], Αρκοπετείναρο [Gr], Saztavuğu [Tu]
IUCN Status: LC (Least Concern)
Parc du Marquenterre, SOMME ● France
Description: The moorhen is a distinctive species, with dark plumage apart from the white undertail, yellow legs and a red frontal shield. The young are browner and lack the red shield. The frontal shield of the adult has a rounded top and fairly parallel sides; the tailward margin of the red unfeathered area is a smooth waving line.
It is a midsized to large rail, it can range from 30 to 38 cm in length and span 50 to 62 cm across the wings.
5 subspecies are recorded:
• G. c. chloropus Linnaeus, 1758 – Eurasian common moorhen – Wings and back blackish-olive – Ranges from Northwest Europe to North Africa and eastwards to Central Siberia and from the humid regions of the Indian Subcontinent and Southeast Asia eastwards to Japan; also found the Canary, Azores, Madeira, and Cape Verde islands.
• G. c. guami Hartert, 1917 – Mariana common moorhen – Body plumage is very dark –Endemic to the Northern Mariana Islands, but see also G. c. orientalis above.
• Endémique de l’archipel des Mariannes.
• G. c. meridionalis C.L. Brehm, 1831 – African common moorhen – Similar to orientalis, but the frontal shield is smaller – Sub-Saharan Africa and Saint Helena.
• G. c. orientalis Horsfield 1821 – Indo-Pacific common moorhen – Small, with slate grey upperwing coverts and large frontal shield - Found in the Seychelles, Andaman Islands, and South Malaysia through Indonesia; also found in the Philippines and Palau.
• G. c. pyrrhorrhoa A. Newton, 1861 – Madagascan common moorhen – Similar to meridionalis, but the undertail coverts are buff – Found on the islands of Madagascar, Réunion, Mauritius, and the Comoros.
Biology: This species will consume a wide variety of vegetable material and small aquatic creatures. They forage beside or in the water, sometimes walking on lilypads or upending in the water to feed. They are often secretive, but can become tame in some areas.
The birds are territorial during breeding season. The nest is a basket built on the ground in dense vegetation. Laying starts in spring, between mid-March and mid-May in Northern hemisphere temperate regions. About 8 eggs are usually laid per female early in the season; a brood later in the year usually has only 5–8 or fewer eggs. Nests may be re-used by different females. Incubation lasts about three weeks. Both parents incubate and feed the young. These fledge after 40–50 days, become independent usually a few weeks thereafter, and may raise their first brood the next spring. When threatened, the young may cling to the parents' body, after which the adult birds fly away to safety, carrying their offspring with them.
Habitat: The common moorhen lives around well-vegetated marshes, ponds, canals and other wetlands. The species is not found in the polar regions or many tropical rainforests. Elsewhere it is likely the most common rail species, except for the Eurasian coot in some regions.
Distribution: The common moorhen has one of the largest ranges of any bird species, occurring on every continent except for Australasia and Antarctica, although it is just an occasional visitor to Svalbard in the Arctic. It is found as far afield as remote islands in the Pacific, such as the Hawaiian and Galapagos Islands. Populations in areas where the waters freeze, such as eastern Europe, will migrate to more temperate climes.
Wikipedia, Common moorhen