Common Moorhen

Photo by Bob Gress


Common Name: Common Moorhen

Scientific Name: Gallinula chloropus


Comments: Common Moorhens are uncommon breeders throughout the southern and eastern Great Plains. Similar in appearance to an American Coot, adult Common Moorhens have a yellow-tipped red bill and a red frontal shield. They are browner than American Coots, have a large white patch under their tails and show a white line along their flanks where their wings rest against their sides. In flight their wings have a white leading edge. They may build several platforms for each nesting attempt, one for the actual nest and others for display and chick brooding. Like coots, they conceal nests in cattails and other tall emergent vegetation, usually anchoring them to surrounding vegetation and constructing ramps leading to them.