• Common Moorhen


Scientific name
Gallinula chloropus (Linnaeus, 1758)

Red Data Book Status


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  • Identification

It is easy to identify this specie due to its vivid red shield and short, yellow bill which contrast with the dark plumage. The legs are bright yellow-green, and a white line along the side of the body and at the sides on the undertail coverts.

  • Voice

The sound is a fast “Kreck-Kreck-Kreck”

  • Ecology

The nest is made of twigs, cattail and bulrush stems and grass and is lined with leaves and other plants. They lay a clutch between 3 to 7 eggs. Their diet includes seeds and other materials from plants on the surface but it can also dives to collect seeds, leaves and roots.

  • Distribution

In the Madeira archipelago it’s only found on the islands of Madeira and Porto Santo. Its preferential habitat is ponds and lakes with dense vegetation on the shores, but it may occasionally occur at the river mouth of some rivers.


The first breeding record for Madeira and Porto Santo was in 2002.


  • Common Moorhen Sightings


October 2013, Tanque - Porto Santo Island © Birds & Company


 April 2011, Tanque - Porto Santo Island © Roberto Moritz

  • Literature

[1] Fagundes, Ana I. C; Nunes, João. 2003. "First Records of Breeding Moorhen Gallinula chloropus (Aves: Rallidae) in Madeira and Porto Santo", Bocagiana , 211: 1 - 4.

[2] Mullarney, Killian; Svensson, Lars; Zetterstrom, Dan; Grant, Peter (1999). Collins Bird Guide. London: Collins. 

[3] Oliveira, P & Menezes, D. (2004) Aves do Arquipélago da Madeira. Serviço do Parque Natural da Madeira. Funchal.


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