Common Moorhen, The Marsh Hen, Not So Common Camera Critters #39

by Larry on January 3, 2009

Common Moorhen photo by Larry Jordan

The Common Moorhen is a medium sized bird that is the most widely distributed member of the Rail family.  Even though they have a wide range around the world the Common Moorhen is listed as threatened or a species of special concern in some areas due to loss of wetland habitat.

I visited one of our great local birding spots yesterday, where I found this Common Moorhen hanging out in a group of Canada Geese, in a small side finger of a huge pond.  They like freshwater marshes and reedy ponds but can usually be seen along the pond edges, where they sometimes walk on top of floating vegetation, showing their olive-yellow legs, looking for seeds and snails.

Common Moorhens will pump there heads while they swim, similar to the American Coot.  However, they are easily differentiated by their yellow-tipped red, chicken-like bill and the white band on their flanks.

All in all, I had a nice time at Lema Ranch.  Spotting the Common Moorhen was an added bonus after seeing my Ferugenous Hawk on the way to town.  Other birds seen at Lema Ranch were the Red-shouldered Hawk, Canada Goose, Great Egret, American Coot, Mallard, Ring-billed Gull, Ring-necked Duck, Lesser Scaup, Pied-billed Grebe, Western Bluebird, Song Sparrow, Lark Sparrow and the Spotted Towhee.

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