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Species: Gallinula chloropus (Linnaeus, 1758)
The Moorhen has a brownish-black body with a white diagonal stripe on both sides of the body and a white patch under the tail. The bill extends over the front part of the face and is short with a yellow tip. The feet and toes are relatively long and are greenish yellow in colour. There are no differences in appearance between adults; the young birds have brownish colouring.
This bird is found all over the world except in Australia and in cold countries. In the Madeira archipelago it can be seen in Porto Santo, alongside the streams, while in Madeira it occurs only in the Lugar de Baixo lagoon, where it was first recorded as a visitor and has now been nesting since 2003.
The Moorhen is always associated to fresh water areas, generally with dense vegetation and other types of aquatic birds. It feeds on plants, weeds and insects.
The bird builds its nest next to water, in a roofed basket covered with leaves and branches. The Moorhen lays between 4 and 10 eggs at a time with 3 clutches being possible annually between April and August. The incubation period lasts for about 3 weeks and the chicks are relatively large when they hatch. They have black plumage and are soon ready to follow the adults to the water.
Madeiran name: Galinha-d’-água
Madeira Island resident breeder
Social: Small flocks
Length: 32 – 35 cm
Status: Regionally endangered /Secure worldwide