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Friday, November 24, 2017

Friday's Foto

The Common Gallinule is a medium-sized member of the rail family. Native to North America, it was once considered the same species as the Old World’s Common Moorhen but in 2011 was split off and renamed.

Adult gallinule have mostly dark plumage, white undertail, yellow legs and a red frontal shield. Immature birds, like the one pictured, are browner, lack the red shield and have a drab maroon bill.

Like most of North America’s rail species they are marsh birds, found in freshwater or brackish marshes with tall emergent vegetation. They are often found in the company of the American Coot. Foraging while walking atop floating vegetation, swimming or walking in shallow water, their diet consists primarily of seeds from grasses and sedges, as well as, snails and other small mollusks.

Common Gallinule breeds over much of midwestern and southern North America through Central America and northern South America. They overwinter from the southern Atlantic states to South America.

While Common Gallinule populations have decreased between 1966 and 2014 the IUCN Red List lists their conservation status as Least Concern.

Their scientific name, Gallinula galeata, means little hen; helmeted.

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