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Moorhen Scientific name: Gallinula chloropusLength: 30-35 cm
Status: Resident breeding species Wingspan: 50-55 cm
Breeding pairs: 270,000Weight: 250-400 g
Wintering birds: 330,000
Conservation status: Green

Description: Moorhens are medium-sized and appear black with a red and yellow beak, red frontal shield and long, green legs.

Up close they have a dark brown back and wings with a blue-black belly and white stripes on their flanks.

Juvenile moorhens are brown and don’t have the red frontal shield.

Nesting: Moorhens build their saucer-shaped nests from twigs, coarse stems and grass lined with softer materials.

Moorhens lay up to 21 eggs which are smooth and glossy and greyish white with reddish-brown markings.

Both sexes incubate the eggs which takes 19-22 days and juveniles fledge at 42-49 days.

Moorhens are generally monogamous and pair bonds can last for several years.

Feeding: Moorhens eat both plants and animals including molluscs, worms, insects, tadpoles and other birds’ eggs.

Where to see them: You can see moorhens at any pond, lake or stream. They live in cities as well as the countryside

They inhabit all the of the UK but are scarce in northern Scotland and the uplands of Wales.
Listen

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Credit: Fernand Deroussen

Did you know? Moorhens have long toes that make it possible to walk on soft mud and floating vegetation, so it can sometimes appear they are walking on water.


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