Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Day 88 - Marvellous Moorhens

Hey everyone,

Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus)
Well it's Day 88 of my blog and so far I've managed to get a post out before my performances, tonight is a night off as there`s no show, so I've a bit more time. As I did Coots yesterday and I found out that they are quite closely related to today's subject I thought I might as well cover them too. If you read the Coots blog you'll know I'm talking about Moorhens!

They are another bird I see a lot and a couple have started to live in a field behind my house and are sometimes on a stable roof that I see from our window. I haven't yet managed to get a picture of them there though.

Well today in my research I found out the following facts:

  • They are a fairly common bird found across much of the UK. 
  • They are Green status and there are about 270,000 breeding pairs in the UK. 
  • They are a wetland bird found near lakes, ponds and rivers but they do spend more time out of the water than Coots do. As I said above I have seen them on the roof of a stable but also I've seen one up a neighbours tree!
Moorhen at Fariburn Ings
  • They are around 34cm long, have a wingspan of 52cm and weigh around 320g.
  • They typically live for around 3 years but the oldest moorhen was recorded as being 11 years and 3 months.
  • As you might just be able to see from my photos they have a dark brown back and wings, a more black belly with white stripes to their sides.
  • As Moorhens and Coots look quite similar, I have found that the best way to tell them apart is that CooTs have a whiTe face, and MooRhens have a Red face! (ie two T`s, and two R`s!).  Well it works for me and my mum anyway!
  • Moorhens have some unusual behaviours. It is the females that fight for the rights to mate with males! 
  • Also they breed co-operatively, some of the older young birds often help parents to raise new offspring. Apparently they are only one of two British birds that do this.
  • When pairing up, males swim towards females with their beaks in the water, the two birds then nibble each others feathers and pair up to build nests. They defend them quite fiercely.
  • They have a defensive technique of pulling themselves under water leaving only their bills above water (thanks @birdbrainuk)
  • They are omnivores, they will eat snails, insects, berries, small fish etc.
  • This is one of my favourite collective nouns, a group of moorhens is called a plump! :o)
I enjoyed finding out more about these birds and if you want to know more try these links:


  1. I spent weeks out in cold wet fields studying Moorhens - lovely birds. All I really found out is that they like food and don't like being food :-S



  2. I'm very fond of Moorhens and have watched them often, the young are marvellous black pom-poms on legs - and I think their call in the evening is a wonderful and unusual sound - good to see that plump should be your 88!

  3. Very interesting read Zach , i remember seeing a Moorhen in someones window box on my way to work once in the middle of town it took one look at me and flew off

  4. Thanks for your comments guys - I hadn't thought about the plump and 88 thing, what a happy co-incidence :-)