Common Gallinule

Common Gallinule
(Gallinula galeata)

(Formerly: Common Moorhen)

Order:  Gruiformes
Family:  Rallidae

Photo by Zcebeci [CC BY-SA 4.0], from WC

Common Gallinule Information

Length:  13 - 14"

Breeding Habitat:  Freshwater marshes, edges of ponds and lakes, shores of slow-moving rivers. Prefers habitat with large areas of open water, some shallow water, and abundant marshy vegetation.

Diet:  Leaves and stems of aquatic vegetation, seeds, wild fruits and berries, mollusks, worms, insects.

  Calls of the Common Gallinule

Additional Information

Common Gallinule
Photos of this bird, characteristics, range, habitat, diet, life cycle, and behavior. (From NatureWorks)

Common Gallinule

Common Gallinule

© Mike Danzenbaker

Common Gallinule
Identification Tips

  • Fairly large, duck-like waterbird with short wings and a short tail
  • Very short, thick bill
  • Frequently seen both swimming and walking
  • Often flicks and cocks short tail while walking, exposing white outer undertail coverts which are also easily visible while swimming
  • Sexes similar
  • Red frontal shield above bill
  • Red bill with a yellow tip
  • Slate gray head, neck, breast and belly
  • Brownish back and upperwings
  • White stripe along upper flanks
  • Tarsus and feet greenish yellow, tibia red

(Credit: U. S. Geological Survey)

Breeding Bird Survey Map,

Common Gallinule Breeding Map

(Image credit: USGS)

Range in New England

The Common Gallinule breeds only in localized areas in New England (not shown on the above map).

They winter mainly along the southeast coast and Gulf coast of the U.S., as well as areas further south.

Winter Map from eBird

Sightings of the Common Gallinule Nov-Mar (1900-present)

Christmas Bird Count Map
Historical CBC Map from USGS