Common Gallinule

The Common Gallinule, also known as the Swamp Chicken or Moorhen, is a bird species that belongs to the Rallidae family. This medium-sized bird has a distinctive appearance that makes it easy to identify.

Basic Description

The Common Gallinule measures around 12-15 inches in length and weighs about 5-11 ounces. It has a long, pointed bill that is red with a yellow tip. Its body is dark grayish-black above and slate-gray below. The head and neck are adorned with bright red shields on the forehead and sides of the face, making it stand out from other waterfowl.

Where To Find This Bird

The Common Gallinule can be found throughout North America’s freshwater wetlands, including marshes, swamps, ponds, lakeshores, rice fields, ditches – wherever there’s abundant vegetation for hiding places by day and feeding at night!


Because they are relatively tolerant of human disturbance compared to other rails; these birds live in open environments where natural cover provides ample protection from predators. They prefer wetland habitats near shallow standing water but may also nest along edges of streams or rivers where muddy substrates hold aquatic vegetation.


As omnivores; gallinules will eat anything nutritious they find within reach! Their diet includes seeds of aquatic plants such as bulrushes/grass-like rushes mixed with invertebrates like snails/ crayfish /aquatic insects & small fish which often become their primary food during breeding season when protein requirements increase dramatically!

Cool Facts

Common gallinules have specialized feet that enable them not only to walk on floating lily pads but also cling onto vertical stems while searching for food – quite remarkable! They’re vocal birds who enjoy communicating with others through various sound patterns, including whinnies, clucks and squeaks. Their territorial displays are also noteworthy as males will raise their wings to show off the white feathers underneath. Finally, did you know that Common Gallinules have a red “forehead shield” that changes color with age – it starts out brownish-black in juveniles and brightens up to red over time?