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Common Gallinule

ID Info
Silhouette RailsRails
Common GallinuleGallinula 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 Gallinule
Range map provided by Birds of the World
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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 Americana (Spanish)
  • Gallinule d'Amérique (French)
  • Cool Facts