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Common Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus)

Updated: Aug 21, 2023

Date: March 18th, 2023

Location: China, Beijing, Yuanmingyuan Park


Whether it's the blossoming of spring, the scorching heat of summer, the crisp winds of autumn, or the bitter cold of winter, you can always find the presence of the Common Moorhen.

In March, the Yuanmingyuan Park is covered by the gentle spring breeze, with emerald waves rippling across the water's surface. Thick clusters of reeds, both large and small, stand densely like silk, vividly green like jade. Common Moorhens gather in small groups along the edges of the reeds, using their pointed bills to peck at the shoots or to carry off strands of aquatic plants. Against the backdrop of vibrant greenery, their bright red beaks with yellow tips stand out conspicuously.


The common moorhen is a bird species in the rail family (Rallidae) and is one of the most common rail species. It habits around vegetated swamps, marshes, ponds, canals, and other water bodies. They are omnivores and feed on a variety of aquatic plants, insects, and small fish.

The fledglings are born with black feathers. The moorhen has a chicken-like body, and black plumage, giving it its Chinese name-黑水鸡 (黑 means black). It has a distinctive red bill with a yellow tip along with red eyes. Moreover, its legs have a yellowish-green color.


Similar to the coots, moorhens are aggressive birds that defend their nesting sites and breeding areas from other birds, including their own species during the breeding season. They often engage in noisy and aggressive displays such as head-bobbing, wing-flapping, and chasing other birds away. In addition to that, during the breeding season, moorhens build nests made of plant material and sticks in shallow water or on floating vegetation. Both males and females take turns incubating the eggs and caring for the young. It gives a wide range of gargling calls and will emit loud hisses when threatened.


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