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Themoorhensthey are very common water birds, some confuse them with coots but they are easy to distinguish. On this page we will see all the information about this fascinating water bird.
Moorhen: what it eats, photos, characteristics and all useful information.
Theremoorhen, Gallinula chloropus, is awater birdof the Rallidae family, the same as thecommon coot. These two species, in fact, have some similarities.
Among the typical aquatic birds of our territory I also point out theKingfisher etheCormorant.
How to recognize the moorhen? This water bird features black plumage on the front and dark brown on the back of the body and wings. Its most striking feature is a reddish shield on the head that goes up to the beginning of the beak. The wings, closed, have a strip of white feathers, another characteristic white spot is located under the small rear tail. The typical red shield is absent in the younger specimens where a brown color of the body is accentuated.
The legs are greenish yellow with a red spot at the knees. The legs have very elongated terminations and lack lobes (instead the legs of coots do have them) or any other interdigital membrane. This feature underlines the vocation of this bird which, although aquatic, adapts perfectly to walking and running on the vegetation of the banks.
This animal has a small body: between 30 and 38 cm. The wingspan, only in the most majestic specimens, reaches 62 cm but generally is around 50 - 55 cm. The weight is between 190 and 500 gr.
Coot and gurnard: difference
These twowaterfowlthey have very similar habits but are easy to distinguish. If in themoorhenthe shield on the head is red, with a bright yellow beak, thecootsthey have a white shield with a clear beak. The moorhen has much more showy legs while those of the coots have a more contained development. The two species can also be distinguished in the juvenile forms and in the chicks. For the images of coots, so as to highlight the differences with the hen, I refer you to the page:coot.
Hisnatural habitatit is made up of wetlands, marshlands, rivers and lakes with dense vegetation. Basically the same natural habitat as coots!
The populations living in the northern areas, where the water tends to freeze, migrate to more temperate areas in the winter. In Italy, in winter thewater henprefer more sheltered basins and lakes.
What does it eat? Hersupplyit is very vast. It is an omnivorous bird! It eats small aquatic animals, invertebrates (such as worms, snails or even tadpoles) and especially algae, rhizomes of aquatic plants and different types of vegetation.
Aquatic gurnard nest
Like coots, so tooaquatic hensthey become territorial and aggressive during the breeding period. When pairs are formed, the hens prepare the nest, usually on the margins and shores of water courses, basins or lakes, the nest is well anchored to the vegetation.
The incubation of the eggs lasts about three weeks, in this period the hatching is carried out by both themalethat fromfemale. Both parents will take care of the nutrition of the newly hatched chicks which usually take 40 to 50 days to become autonomous. Themoorhensthey reach sexual maturity at one year of age, then the spring hatches will begin mating and reproduction in the following spring.
Thegallinellethey are very attentive: parental care is explicit and, when the chicks are threatened, they hide between the wings of the parents and climb "on the back" of the adults who quickly bring them to safety. This protective behavior is put in place to defend the chicks from predators such as aerons or gulls.
The females lay 5 to 10 eggs, the eggs are brownish in color (darker than the folaca eggs, which are ocher - yellowish). In the photo, an aquatic gurnard nest.
Where to find the moorhen?
In lakes, ponds, swamps, canals, ditches and in general in any moist soil near a water course rich in aquatic plants. Like coots, they live in those streams and lakes with minimal currents, therefore also in small channels where the water flows slowly.