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Common Moorhen | Gallinula chloropus

The Common Moorhen is a Southern African bird that belongs to the Rallidae bird family group which includes birds such as Flufftails, Rails, Crakes, Gallinules, Swamphens, Moorhens, Coots.

The description for the Common Moorhen (Latin name Gallinula chloropus) can be found in the 7th Edition of the Roberts Birds of Southern Africa. The Gallinula chloropus can be quickly identified by its unique Roberts identification number of 226 and the detailed description of this bird is on page 334. You will find a picture of the Common Moorhen on page 305.

NOTE: The reference for the information following is "Roberts Birds of Southern Africa", 7th Edition*. This edition contained a number of taxonomic changes as well as changes to English names used traditionally and in earlier editions of most bird books in South Africa. The following paragraph notes such changes if any.

There have been no changes in the common name between the Roberts 6th and Roberts 7th Edition. There have been no changes in the Latin name for the Common Moorhen between the Roberts 6th and Roberts 7th Edition

The Common Moorhen is known in Afrikaans as Grootwaterhoender.

The Common Moorhen has a height of 38 cms and weighs around 175 gms. The head is coloured black while the bill is coloured red. The Gallinula chloropus has a black coloured throat, yellow legs and a black coloured back. The eyes are crimson.

Take note of the bird's main distinguishing features such as colour, size and leg length relative to the body size of the bird. Colours of a bird's body parts can be helpful. Be aware what may appear brown to one person is described in Roberts Birds using some other word ... for example brown, black. See colours used in Roberts.

Head is black

Eyes are crimson

Bill is red

Legs are yellow

Throat is black

Back is black

Feeding Habits ...

This bird forages for food on the ground

This bird has a specially adapted bill which helps it hunt for fish, crabs, shrimp and other aquatic animals in the water.

This bird eats insects such as butterflies, bees, wasps, locusts and ants. These invertebrates are usually hawked aerially, killed and then eaten .

The Gallinula chloropus forages mainly on the ground or at the base of trees, and low down in the shrubs eating mostly fruits and seeds.

Breeding, Habitat and Nesting Habits ...

The Common Moorhen is a monogamous bird which means that the bird finds and breeds with one partner for the rest of its life. The bird lays between 4 to 9 eggs and they are coloured white.

The bird builds its nest above water as a means of protecting itself from predators and to be close to its main food source which includes fish, shrimp and frogs.

The Common Moorhen is found in the Southern African wetlands, riverine forests and moist grasslands.

The bird is an urban dweller as well, being at home in parks, gardens and in old vacated buildings

Seen in Flocks, Singles or Pairs Normally ...

The Common Moorhen is mainly seen singly or in pairs in the wild.

The reference for the information following is "Roberts Birds of Southern Africa", 7th Edition * edited by PAR Hockey, WRJ Dean and PG Ryan, published by "The Trustees of the John Voelcker Bird Book Fund."

copyright: Tony Roocroft +27-11-454-0105

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