Kingdom Animalia
Click the hear the call  Click to watch the video
Phylum Chordata
Class Aves
Order Gruiformes
Family Rallidae
Genus Gallinula
Species chloropus
Classification Linnaeus, 1758
Common name common moorhen
Size 32 - 35 centimeters
Wing Span 50 - 55 centimeters
Male weight 250 - 400 grams
Female weight 260 - 370 grams

Geographic Range it is found all over the world except for the Poles and Australia.
Physical Characteristics the male and female look like each other. In the adult, the upper parts are brownish-dark olive, the head and neck are black, the lower parts are grey, with white striped flanks; the beak is red with a yellow tip and a red facial plate; the paws are yellow, subcaudal feathers are white. The winter plumage of the adult does not change much, the red beak becomes duller as the shield on the forehead and the yellowish tip do. In the young the upper parts are brown- dark olive, the head and the neck are grey, the throat is white with black spots; the lower parts are grey with a white spot in the middle of the breast and white stripes on the flanks. The beak is dark red, the paws are dark green. The little birds of the nest are precocious and covered with thick, short and black hair both on the head and on wings down; the skin of the head and over the eyes is pink and blue, that of the wings is pink; the beak is red with a yellow tip and the paws are green-blackish.
Call it gives a rough, harsh and croaking call. Before and during the breding season it gives rhythmic and varied calls that are often confused with those of the barn owl.
Behaviour it is possible to see it in the water while it is plunging its beak to find food. It can get some food from the ground and plants too. During the courtship the male lowers his head and lifts his tail, showing his white feathers from the lower part of the tail, with his wings up high. Then, the male and the female take a bow one in front of the other. The territorial behaviour of the common moorhen can be seen most of all during the mating season. At the beginning parents, but afterwards, bigger family groups, defend the nest area from birds of the same species, from other birds and potential predators. Very young moorhens have spurs on their wings that allow them to scramble up on emergent water vegetation, in order to run away from any possible predators.
Habitat marshes, ponds with high and abundant water vegetation; among thick vegetation along rivers too.
Flight the common moorhen runs on the water surface in order to fly up.
Food habits it feeds on water vegetation with its seeds and fruits, but on insects and molluscs too.
Migration it is a sedentary species and if it migrates it does so only for short distances. In Italy it is sedentary and nest-building in wet areas, but also partially migrating and wintering.
Nidification moorhens cooperate to defend their clutch, and the young from the first clutch of the season defend the territory and take care of the following clutch. They nest in the marshes, in soft water lakes, and in ponds with emergent vegetation. The dome-shaped nest is usually built on emergent vegetation, on dry land, sometimes directly on the water, and it is made up of water plants and grass. They build a sort of ramp that leads from the nest to the water and sometimes the pair builds a cover on the nest in order to hide it. The female lays from 5 to 8 eggs, which are incubated by both parents for 19-22 days. Sometimes more than 13 eggs are found in the nests, and that is the result of intraspecific forms of parasitism. There can be up to 2 or 3 clutches per year, from April to July. The chicks are precocious and get covered with feathers in 40- 50 days. During this period parents look after the first clutch, but when that one becomes relatively independent a second clutch and sometimes a third one come to light.
Status in the lagoon it winters in several soft water environments, preferably with a good vegetation cover of the banks. It is found in the South lagoon and along rivers as Sile and Lemene.

References Animal Diversity Web, University of Michigan
Canada's AquaticEnvironment
Museo Zoologico "La Specola" di Firenze
I censimenti degli uccelli svernanti in Provincia di Venezia - a cura di M. Bon e G. Cherubini - Provincia di Venezia, Assessorato Caccia e Pesca.
Web References http://www.animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu
Source of the photo http://zoologie.forst.tu-muenchen.de/
Source of the call http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/
Source of the video http://www.hbw.com/ibc/

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