moorhen Fledgling


Scientific name: Gallinula chloropus

Did you know: Moorhens are part of the rail family, which includes some of the few bird species capable of walking well on strong legs with long toes, adapted for soft, uneven surfaces.

What Do Moorhens Look Like? (how to identify them)

Moorhens exhibit a blackish appearance with a notable yellow and red beak and vibrant green legs. On closer inspection, you’ll notice their dark brown-coloured back and wings, a blue and black belly, and distinctive white stripes on their flanks. 

Their plumage showcases a mix of brown, black, and white feathers, making them quite distinguishable in their habitat.

Differences Between Male And Female Moorhens

Moorhens do not exhibit significant sexual dimorphism; males and females look very similar. Both have the same colouration and markings, making it challenging to distinguish between them based on appearance alone.

What Do Moorhens Eat?

Their diet is quite diverse, including seeds, fruit, water plants, grasses, insects, worms, snails, and small fish. Moorhens are adaptable foragers, often seen feeding in open water margins and utilising their strong legs for foraging in soft ground near water bodies.

Where Do Moorhens Live? (inc. migration info)

Moorhens are commonly found in urban and suburban areas, farmlands, wetlands, and grasslands. In the UK, they breed across the country, avoiding high ground. The UK is home to about 210,000 breeding pairs, and this number increases to around 300,000 birds in winter, bolstered by migrants from the Continent.

Bird Calls & Songs (the unique voices of Moorhens)

Moorhens are known for their range of gargling calls and are quick to emit loud hisses when threatened. They are not particularly vocal birds, but their calls are distinctive, especially when defending their territory during the breeding season.

Fun Moorhen Facts (kid friendly)

  • Moorhens can walk very well thanks to their strong legs and long toes.
  • They are part of the rail family, which also includes coots.
  • Moorhens have short round wings and are considered weak fliers.
  • Despite their short wings, they can migrate up to 2,000 km from their breeding areas.
  • Moorhens can walk on lily pads and often upend in water to feed.
  • They are omnivorous, eating both plants and small animals.
  • During the breeding season, Moorhens are territorial and can be quite aggressive.
  • They are adaptable birds, capable of living in both natural wetlands and urban parks.
  • In some regions, Moorhens are known as “marsh hens” or “black gallinules.”
  • They are widespread and common, making them a familiar sight in many parts of the world.

Facts About The Moorhen

Diet: Water plants, seeds, fruit, grasses, insects, snails, worms and small fish.
Bird Family: Rails, crakes and coots
Length: 32-35cm
Wingspan: 50-55cm
Weight: 250-400g
Scientific Name: Gallinula chloropus

The Moorhen Can Be Seen In The UK During The Following Months

  • January
  • February
  • March
  • April
  • May
  • June
  • July
  • August
  • September
  • October
  • November
  • December

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