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Merlin Bird ID

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    Common Gallinule Life History


    Habitat MarshesFreshwater or brackish marshes with tall emergent vegetation, ponds, canals, and rice fields.Back to top


    Food PlantsSeeds of grasses and sedges, and some snails.Back to top


    Nest Placement

    Nest Floating

    Nest Description

    A wide bowl of grasses and sedges, usually taken from near the nest site. Most commonly anchored to emergent vegetation within a meter of water.

    Nesting Facts
    Clutch Size:3-15 eggs
    Egg Description:Gray or buff with variable speckles and splotches.
    Condition at Hatching:Eyes open; covered with gray down except on head and wings.
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    Behavior DabblerPicks food from water surface or from emergent plants while walking or swimming. Dips head, dabbles, and occasionally dives. Flips floating leaves to take snails clinging to undersides.Back to top


    Conservation Low ConcernCommon Gallinule populations decreased between 1966 and 2014, according to the North American Breeding Bird Survey. These birds are listed as threatened or as a species of special concern in several Midwestern and Northeastern states because of loss of wetland habitat, predation by introduced mammals, and other factors. The Hawaiian Common Gallinule population is on the on the 2014 State of the Birds Watch List, which lists bird species that are at risk of becoming threatened or endangered without conservation action.Back to top


    Bannor, Brett K. and Erik Kiviat. 2002. Common Gallinule (Gallinula galeata), version 2.0. In The Birds of North America (P. G. Rodewald, editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York, USA.

    Lutmerding, J. A. and A. S. Love. Longevity records of North American birds. Version 2015.2. Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, Bird Banding Laboratory 2015.

    North American Bird Conservation Initiative. 2014. The State of the Birds 2014 Report. US Department of Interior, Washington, DC, USA.

    Sauer, J. R., J. E. Hines, J. E. Fallon, K. L. Pardieck, Jr. Ziolkowski, D. J. and W. A. Link. The North American Breeding Bird Survey, results and analysis 1966-2013 (Version 1.30.15). USGS Patuxtent Wildlife Research Center 2014b. Available from

    Sibley, David Allen. 2014. The Sibley guide to birds, second edition. Alfred A Knopf, New York.

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