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Merlin Bird ID

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    Common Gallinule

    ID Info
    Silhouette RailsRails

    Common Gallinule

    Gallinula galeata
    • ORDER: Gruiformes
    • FAMILY: Rallidae
    Basic Description

    The Common Gallinule swims like a duck and walks atop floating vegetation like a rail with its long and slender toes. This boldly marked rail has a brilliant red shield over the bill and a white racing stripe down its side. It squawks and whinnies from thick cover in marshes and ponds from Canada to Chile, peeking in and out of vegetation. This species was formerly called the Common Moorhen and is closely related to moorhen species in the Old World.

    More ID Info
    image of range map for Common GallinuleRange map provided by Birds of North AmericaExplore Maps

    Find This Bird

    The Common Gallinule is most likely to make its presence known vocally first, but don't worry, this rail is easier to see than most. Listen for a strange clucking and whinnying coming from thick marsh vegetation and start scanning the edges. It often peeks in and out of vegetation, either walking atop vegetation or swimming along the edge. It may also forage alongside American Coots in open water—its red shield sticking out like a sore thumb.

    Other Names
    • Gallineta Frente Roja (Spanish)
    • Gallinule d'Amérique (French)
    • Cool Facts