Common Name

Scientific Name


Photo by Unknown Photographer
Photo Courtesy of Utah Division of Wildlife Resources

The common moorhen, Gallinula chloropus, is a rare summer resident of Utah that occurs in wetlands in the northern portion of the state. Though not widespread in the western United States, this rail is found throughout the Americas from southern Canada to Argentina, and it also occurs in Europe, Africa, and Asia.

The common moorhen nests at a variety of wetland habitats, often constructing a nest at the edge of water, but sometimes using an old nest of another bird in a tree near water. Nests are usually large platforms of vegetation, with surrounding vegetation arranged to conceal the nest. Both sexes participate in nest building, with the male bringing most of the material to the nesting site. Usually five to eleven eggs are laid in May, but sometimes as few as two or as many as twenty-one eggs are laid. Large clutches may be the result of two females laying eggs in the same nest. Both sexes share nesting duties for the 19 to 22 day incubation period. Young are independent after about five weeks and are able to fly after seven weeks, but they often remain with their parents for longer than seven weeks. The diet of this bird includes aquatic vegetation, seeds, and aquatic invertebrates, especially snails.


  • Ehrlich, P. R., D. S. Dobkin, and D. Wheye. 1988. The birder's handbook: a field guide to the natural history of North American birds. Simon and Shuster, Inc., New York. xxx + 785 pp.

  • Baicich, P. J., and C. J. O. Harrison. 1997. A guide to the nests, eggs, and nestlings of North American Birds, Second Ed. Academic Press, San Diego. 347 pp.