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Common Gallinule


IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

The most widely distributed member of the rail family, the Common Gallinule inhabits marshes and ponds from Canada to Chile, from northern Europe to southern Africa, and across Asia to the Pacific. Vocal and boldly marked, the species can be quite conspicuous, sometimes using its long toes to walk atop floating vegetation.

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Typical Voice

Adult Description

  • Dark, with white flank stripe.
  • Red bill and forehead.
  • Swims on surface of water like a duck.
  • Bill triangular like a chicken's, not flat like a duck's.
  • White stripe on sides of undertail.

Immature Description

Juvenile brownish-gray with drab maroon bill and no frontal shield.

Range Map Help

Common Gallinule Range Map
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Field MarksHelp

Similar Species

Similar Species

  • Adult Purple Gallinule has blue body plumage, green wings, and a blue frontal shield, and lacks white flank stripe. Juvenile Purple Gallinule has tawny neck and head, mostly white underparts, and greenish wings. Purple Gallinule lacks black line down the middle of the undertail coverts.
  • American Coot is stockier, has white bill, unmarked flanks, and mostly dark undertail coverts.