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Moorhen

Moorhen Facts

KingdomAnimalia
PhylumChordata
ClassAves
OrderGruiformes
FamilyRallidae
GenusGallinula
Scientific NameGallinula
TypeBird
DietOmnivore
Size (L)25cm - 38cm (10in - 15in)
Wing Span50cm - 80cm (20in - 31in)
Weight70g - 400g (2.5oz - 14oz)
Top Speed35km/h (22mph)
Life Span1 - 3 years
LifestyleFlock
Conservation StatusLeast Concern
ColourBlack, White, Brown
Skin TypeFeathers
Favourite FoodInsects
HabitatMarshes, wetlands and ponds
Average Clutch Size7
Main PreyInsects, Rodents, Berries
PredatorsFoxes, Dogs, Raccoons
Distinctive FeaturesSmall rounded head and pointed beak

Moorhen Location

Map of Moorhen Locations

Moorhen

The moorhen is a generally small-sized bird that is commonly found near large bodies of water such as marshes, ponds and streams. The moorhen is most commonly known for its small black-feathered body and (often) red, pointed beak.

There are seven different species of moorhen that are found all over the world today from the dusky moorhen of Australia to the lesser moorhen of Africa, and the spot-flanked moorhen of South America. The common moorhen is found throughout the world but does not occur in the polar regions or in tropical rainforests.

Moorhens spend their life on the water and have a number of adaptations including webbed-toes which aids the moorhen in both swimming and walking about on the slippery banks that line the water's edge. Moorhens are very sociable birds and spends their lives with other moorhens in a group known as a flock.

Moorhens are omnivorous birds and have diet that primarily consists of small invertebrates such as insects and water-spiders. Moorhens also eat larger animals such as small rodents and lizards and also pick at plants including berries, fruits and seeds.

Due to its relatively small size, the moorhen generally has a number of predators but this varies depending on the area in which the moorhen lives. Canines including foxes, dogs, coyotes, raccoons and dingos are the main predators of the moorhen along with large reptiles and wildcats.

Female moorhens begin to build themselves a nest on the ground in which to lay their eggs, in early spring. The female moorhen then lays an average of 7 eggs although the exact number is dependant on the species. The moorhen chicks hatch out of the eggs after just a few weeks, and both the mother and father moorhens helps to incubate the eggs and feed the chicks.

Despite their environment being drastically altered by habitat loss and pollution, the common moorhen have proved to be a very hardy bird as it stills thrives in most areas. Other moorhen species however are sadly listed as either vulnerable or endangered.