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Common Gallinule

Previously known as Common Gallinule, this bird is more commonly known as Common Moorhen now.

Like other marsh birds, the Common Gallinule is local in its distribution, depending on the availability of its preferred habitat. Dense aquatic vegetation such as cattails or bulrushes is important for Common Moorhens, though the surrounding landscape can be either natural or urban.

Large feet enable the moorhen to walk across soggy marsh vegetation. It does not have webbed feet like ducks, but is still able to swim quite capably. It prefers to hide in vegetation if threatened, but can dive briefly to escape an attack from a hawk. (Previously known as Common Moorhen.)


Description of the Common Gallinule


The Common Gallinule is duck-like in shape, and is grayish-brown above and gray below with a white line along the flank. It has a red shield on the forehead during the breeding season, and its bill is red at the base and yellow at the tip.  Length: 14 in.  Wingspan: 21 in.

Common Gallinule

Photograph © Greg Lavaty.


Sexes similar.

Seasonal change in appearance

The forehead shield is less colorful in the winter.


Juveniles resemble winter adults, with duller bills and reduced shields.


Common Moorhens inhabit freshwater marshes and ponds with emergent vegetation.


Common Moorhens eat aquatic plants, insects, mollusks, and tadpoles.


Common Moorhens forage while swimming or walking.


The Common Moorhen breeds throughout much of the eastern U.S., and is resident along the southern Atlantic and Gulf Coasts and in the southwestern U.S. It also has a nearly cosmopolitan distribution, occurring on five continents.

More information:

Bent Life History

Visit the Bent Life History for extensive additional information on the Common Moorhen.

Wing Shape

The shape of a bird’s wing is often an indication of its habits and behavior. Fast flying birds have long, pointed wings. Soaring birds have long, broad wings. Different songbirds will have a slightly different wing shape. Some species look so much alike (Empidonax flycatchers) that scientists sometimes use the length of specific feathers to confirm a species’ identification.

Wing images from the University of Puget Sound, Slater Museum of Natural History


Fun Facts

Common Moorhens are often quite tame, allowing a close approach.

Courtship displays include bowing and mutual preening.


Vocalizations consist of a series of clucks and whines.


Similar Species

American Coot
American Coots have white bills, lack the white flank stripe and are blacker overall.

Purple Gallinule
As the name suggests, the Purple Gallinule has a purplish head. The Common Moorhen was previously called the Common Gallinule.


The Common Moorhen’s nest consists of a platform of aquatic plants over or near water, often with a ramp leading to the water.

Number: Usually lay 8-11 eggs.
Color: Buffy in color with darker markings.


Incubation and fledging:
The young hatch at about 19-22 days, and leave the nest shortly after hatching, though associating with the adults for some time.


Bent Life History of the Common Gallinule

Published by the Smithsonian Institution between the 1920s and the 1950s, the Bent life history series of monographs provide an often colorful description of the birds of North America. Arthur Cleveland Bent was the lead author for the series. The Bent series is a great resource and often includes quotes from early American Ornithologists, including Audubon, Townsend, Wilson, Sutton and many others.

Bent Life History for the Common Moorhen – the common name and sub-species reflect the nomenclature in use at the time the description was written.


The Florida gallinule is unfortunately named, for it is by no means confined to Florida, nor is it any more abundant there than elsewhere; if anything, it is less common there. It enjoys a wide distribution over the American continent, ranging as far west as California and as far north as Minnesota, Ontario, and New England, as a regular breeding bird. Where it can find congenial swampy resorts, it may be found by one who is familiar with its notes or is willing to explore such unattractive places; often it continues to frequent and breed in the last remnants of swampy hollows, close to civilized centers, until driven out by the filling in of such places. William Bre~ter (1891) describes such a resort in the Fresh Pond marshes in Cambridge, Massachusetts, as follows:

Their chosen haunt was a swamp about five acres in extent, covered with dense beds of cat-tail flags and thickets of low willows, among which were many pools and ditches of open water 3 or 4 feet in depth connected by a network of muskrat run ways. The only really dry places were the tops of the numerous large tussocks and scattered houses of the muskrats, for among the willows and cat-tails the water was everywhere from 6 to 12 inches deep. The swamp was bordered on one side by a railroad, on the next by a high knoll, on the third by partially submerged woods of dead or dying maples, while on the fourth side an expanse of marshy ground stretched away for hundreds of yards to the shores of a pond. The area covered most thickly with flags and willows was separated from the maple swamp by a ditch, broad, straight, and practically free from all vegetation save duckweed, which formed an emerald carpet on the surface of the brown, stagnant water.

Courtship: I have seen the courtship display in Florida, in which the white undertail coverts perform a conspicuous part; with head hold low, wings partly raised and opened and tail greatly elevated and spread, like a great white fan, the male swims about in a swanlike attitude, uttering his love notes. An open bit of water in the marsh forms the stage and the female watches the performance from the seclusion of neighboring reeds.

C. J. Pennock has sent me the following notes on the courtship of t.his species, as observed by him in a marsh near Wilmington, Delaware, on June 6,1925:

Our attention was attracted to a pair of Florida gailinules swimming in one of the larger open tracts and we tarried for an inspection. It quickly became evident that this pair of gallinules were amorously intent; at least while the one appeared to the spectators as supremely indifferent to all extraneous affairs and placidly bobbed about within a quite restricted area the other bird was most intent on creating a responsive thrill or in convincing his lady love that he alone was the gayest, handsomest, and most infatuating Lothario in that muddy pond! While his movements were never rapid he was ever alert and continually in motion, paddling to one side of the female and across in front of her, then hack and forth, close by, or veering he might get 5 or 6 yards distant, rarely farther away; now he would serenely sail toward her with brilliant, flaring figurehead or frontispiece, the red of shield and scarlet bill making a vivid mark as viewed against the dark background of water and reeds; again with quite as much seeming aplomb he would reverse his course when within perhaps but a foot or two of the female, and now it became evident that he considered his greatest charm was centered in the white feather patches of the undertail coverts, border of wings, and upper flanks, for these were flashed in display for her benefit in short or longer intervals, but usually well shown, as he bobbed off from her or tacked, now right, now left, with tail apeak and wings one-third or one-half open. At such times the three tracts showed to the greatest advantage, not quilie as a single white area continuously, but when we had a direct stern view there was quite as much, probably more, white to be seen than of the dull plumbeous tint of upper wings and body. When swimming toward his mate, the male swam quite erect, head well up, evidently to make the brilliant face and bill most conspicuous, while on the reverse course, usually, I am not sure it was always so, the head and neck were inclined well forward and at this time the erected tail was often opened and closed, fanlike, which brought the white in greater evidence.

Nesting: Mr. Brewster’s (1891) careful description of his Cambridge nest is worth quoting in full; he writes:

It was in the midst of a low, half-submerged thicket of Spirea selicifolie, intermingled with a few wild-rose bushes and alders, 4 or 5 feet in height. The foliage was scanty, and the tops of the bushes withered. Among their stems the water was from 12 to 15 inches deep, quite free from grass, flags, tussocks, or any floating vegetation save a thin coating of duckweed over the surface. The uniform light color of the nest: a pale bleached straw, nearly that of dead grass: thrown into relief against the background of dark water, rendered it so conspicuous an object that it caught my eye at a distance of fully 25 feet. Obviously the birds had disregarded, either deliberately or unconsciously, all considerations of protective coloring, and then, with apparently studied boldness, had rejected the safe shelter of tangled wild-rose thickets, dense beds of cat-tail flags, and clusters of bushy topped tussocks with which the marsh abounded, to build their home among scattered bushes in the center of a nearly open pond. With the exception of a little dry tussock grass which formed a lining, the nest was composed wholly of cat-tail flags of last year’s growth, all of which must have been brought by the gallinules a distance of at least 25 yards, much of the way through bushes where the water was too deep for the birds to get any firm footing. As some of the stalks were nearly 2 feet in length, an inch thick at the base, and very heavy, the labor involved must have been great. About the rim and outer edges of the nest the flags were broken or doubled in lengths of 3 to 6 inches, the ends of which, projecting upward and outward, formed a fringe of blunt but bristling points that prevented the eggs from rolling or being crowded out. On one side this fringe was wanting for a space of 2 or 3 inches where a pathway about 6 inches in length led from the edge of the nest down a gentle incline to the water. This pathway was composed of broad flags from 20 to 23 inches long drawn out straight, with the slender tips firmly woven into the nest and the heavy water-soaked butts resting some distance away on the bottom. It was evident that these flags had been carefully selected and adjusted to form a sort of “gangplank” by means. of which the bird might enter and leave the nest without disarranging or breaking the brittle material which formed its rim. The whole structure was saved from danger of submersion ja ease of a sudden rise of water by the buoyancy of its materials, but it derived its chief support from the stems of the bushes, among which it was firmly wedged. It certainly did not rest on the bottom, for I ran my hand under it and found everywhere a clear space of several inches in depth. The measurements of the nest in sieu were as follows: Greatest external diameter, 20 inches; least external diameter, 13 inches; height of rim above the water, 4 inches; total height about 8 inches. The egg cavity was symmetrical but shallow (25A inches in depth), and measured 7 inches across.

Another flourishing colony was well established in the Hackensack Meadows, New Jersey, close to civilization, between two large cities, Clinton G. Abbott (1907) and his companions were surprised at the numbers of the gallinules in this marsh, as they saw at least 50 separate birds in the open, and counted as many as 28 in a single pool. He says:

The water in the swamp was found to be about thigh deep, that is to say the wader sank that distance, but fully half the apparent depth was caused by the soft mud tinder the water. Occasionally, one would step into a hole up to his chest, but this was unusual, and for the most part the ground under the mud was solid and trustworthy. The area searched consisted of a broad tract of open, water containing a few islands, and bordered on one side by the railroad track and on the other by a luxuriant growth of cat-tails into which many arms and bays extended. In addition there were among the cat-tails a number of isolated ponds unconnected with the main tract. All water, with the exception of the center of the open tract, was covered with a solid scum of duckweed so thick that swimming birds left no path in it, as it closed immediately in their wake. The cat-tails often extended at least 2 feet above the wader’s head, so that in a thick bed it would have been easy to lose one’s bearings were it not for the tall chimney of a bluing factory close by: evidence in itself of the proximity of civilization to the marsh birds’ haunt. Mr. Hann and I found no less than seven inhabited nests the first afternoon and at least three times as many empty ones. The inhabited nests contained anywhere from 10 eggs to one young bird. The nests themselves, which are composed entirely of dead rushes with but a shallow cup, are usually placed in an isolated tussock or else at the edge of a cat-tail bed, so that the bird when leaving may have immediate access to open water. A notable exception, however, was a nest found in a dense growth of cat-tails, at least 12 feet from open water. In the majority of cases the bed of the nest was 4 to 6 inches from the surface of the water, but several, perhaps built by birds whose first nests had been flooded, were higher. Almost every nest had a sort of sloping runway to the water’s edge by which the bird probably always entered and left the nest. One nest was especially worthy of notice for its unusual height above the water, as we could barely see into it when standing on tiptoe in the mud. It was placed high on a mass of cat-tails tangled by the wind. Occasionally the tips of the rushes were drawn together to form a sort of arch over a nest, as is done by rails, but this was by no means universal.

A similar colony near Philadelphia is described by Richard F. Miller (1910). Dr. Thomas S. Roberts (1879) found several nests of this species in a large, reedy slough near Minneapolis.

They were placed in patches of old, wild-rice stubble, and were built up on a floating foundation of reed and rice stems, so as to be high enough to keep the inside of the nest dry. Coarse rushes and reeds were used in building, much of the material being so long that only one end entered into tbe construction of the nest, tbe remainder banging in the water.

Alexander Sprunt, jr., writes to me that he finds the Florida gallinules breeding, about May l,in two localities near Charleston, South Carolina.

One of these is a large fresh-water reservoir about 17 miles to the northwest of Charleston. A large expanse of about several hundred acres is flooded, and has a rank growth of various water plants, some of these tracts forming veritable floating islands, some hundreds of yards in length and width. There are also numerous floating logs which have a growth of weeds and grasses springing from the exposed sides, and floating almost stationary in the masses of duckweed which cover the water for large areas. The Florida gallinule abounds here. I make the trip to this locality each year, and have always been rewarded by the finding of several nests. The large majority are placed very near the water, sometimes under a growth of weed on the floating islands, or saddled upon one of the semisubmerged logs, usually near one end. This situation is rather a favorite one. At times the log may change its position by a distance of several rods, making the nest a traveling one, to a certain extent. All the nests I have found are composed of dried, half-decayed leaves, and stalks of aquatic plants, sometimes the bottom of the nest being quite damp, so close is it to the water.

A rather unusual type of nest was found on May 2, 1914 in this same reservoir. It was placed on the top of a dead stump, about 2 feet from the water, and surrounded by a growth of willows, In the rice field sections this species seems fully as partial to wainpee (Pontederta cordata) as does the purple gallinule, and I have found many nests, about 1 foot from the water, made of decayed leaves of wampee, and attached to the stems of the growing clumps of the same plant. The graceful arrowhead leaves of this plant, the beautiful green color, and the general setting of such a nest makes a wonderful picture. However, other situations are chosen. Sometimes one finds the nests along the banks of the rice fields, amid a thick tangle of briars, grasses, and vines, but always within a few feet of the water.

Snakes take toll of both the eggs and the young, and are a constant menace. Crows, too, rob the exposed nests at frequent intervals. One thing that always interested me is the complete indifference with which this species regards an investigation of its nest. Time and again have I had the adults within a few feet of me while photographing the nest, and examining the eggs. This would not be so strange if it were not for the air of utter unconcern on the part of the bird. Walking about on the decayed vegetation, picking up food here and there, within Ii and 8 feet at times, clucking and chuckling in its peculiar way, they stroll about as if there was no enemy, human or otherwise, within miles.

My own experience with the nesting of this species has been rather limited. In Texas we found it breeding on some of the deep ponds near Brownsville, while we were hunting for nests of the Mexican grebe, on May 23, 1923, wading in water waist deep or more. These ponds are more or less overgrown, especially around the borders, with water huisache bushes and scattered clumps of cat-tail flags. Some of the nests were in the flags and similar in construction to those described above. One nest, found by Mr. Simmons, was in a low crotch of a huisache bush, close to the water.

In Florida we found Florida gallinules breeding in all the ponds where we found purple gallinules breeding, rather more numerous than the latter, but nowhere very abundant. They had eggs during the last week in April. The ponds frequented by gallinules have been described under the foregoing species. The Florida gallinules’ nests were usually placed in the shallower parts of the ponds, around the borders, where the water was often not over one or two feet deep. They seemed to prefer the extensive tracts of pickerel weed (Pontederia cordata), but they often nested among the “bonnets” (Nymphaea advena) mixed with a lower growth of water pennywort (Hydrocotyle ranunculoides). The nests were placed just above the water, or practically floating, and usually they were more or less wet. They were made of the dead Stems and leaves of the pickerel weed. There were generally three or four empty nests in the vicinity of every occupied one.

N. B. Moore says, in his Florida notes, that an interval of one or two days often occurs between the layings of eggs. He also states that the birds add to the material in the nest during the egg laying period, placing new green leaves of Pontederia under, as well as around, the eggs; most of the material was probably within reach, as the bird stood on the nest; and it was probably added, as the leaves dried and shrunk, to keep the nest high and dry. He ascertained these facts by visiting a nest daily from the time nest building began until the young left the nest.

Verdi Burtch (1917) mentions a case where, after a heavy rain, the birds raised a nest, eggs and all, at least 10 inches by the addition of new green flags.

Eggs: The Florida gallinule lays from 6 to 17 eggs, both of which extremes are unusual; probably 10 or a dozen would be nearly the average number; the smaller sets are often incomplete. The eggs are ovate in shape and the shell is smooth, with little or no gloss. The ground color varies from “cinnamon” or “cinnamon buff” to cartridge buff” or “pale olive buff.” This is irregularly marked with spots, mostly fine dots, of various shades of brown, from “Vandyke brown” to “russet,” and occasionally with a few spots of “wood brown’.’ or various shades of drab. The measurements of 105 eggs average 44 by 31 millimeters; the eggs showing the four extremes measure 49.5 by 33, and 39 by 28 millimeters.

Young: Incubation is said to begin with the laying of the first egg, to last for about 21 days and to be shared by both sexes. The young gallinules are able to leave the nest soon after they are hatched and are well able to take care of themselves at an early age. There is a sharp spur at the bend of the wing, which the young bird uses to assist it in climbing among the reeds and lily pads. Audubon (1840) gives the best account of the early life of the young birds, as follows:

The females are as assiduous in their attentions to their young as the wild turkey nens; and, although the young take to the water as soon as hatched, the mother frequently calls them ashore, when she nurses and dries them under her body and wings. In this manner she looks after them until they are nearly a month old, when she abandons them and begins to breed again. The young, which are covered with hairy, shining, black down, swim beautifully, jerking their heads forward at each movement of their feet. They seem to grow surprisingly fast, at the age of 6 or 7 weeks are strong, active, and perhaps as well able to elude their enemies as the old birds are. Their food consists of grasses, seeds, water-insects, worms, and snails, along with which they swallow a good deal of sand or gravel. They walk and run over the broad leaves of water lilies as if on land, dive if necessary, and appear at times to descend into the water in search of food, although I can not positively assert that they do so. On more than one occasion, I have seen a flock of these young birds playing on the surface of the water like ducks, beating it with their wings, and splashing it about in a curious manner, when their gambols would attract a garfish, which at a single dart woold seize one of them and disappear. The rest aifrighted would run as it were with inconceivable velocity on the surface of the water, make for the shore, and there lie concealed and silent for a quarter of an hour or so. In the streams and ponds of the Floridas, this species and some others of similar habits, suffer greatly from alligators and turtles, as well as from various kinds of fish, although, on account of their prolific nature, they are yet abundant.

Plumages: The downy young Florida gallinule is nearly bald, the crown being very scantily covered with black hairlike down; the skin at the base of the bill is bright red; the black down on the chin and throat is tipped with curly whitish hairs; and the rest of the body is covered with thick, soft, black down, glossed with greenish above and dull sooty black below.

The body plumage is acquired at an early age, but the young bird is fully half grown before the wings and tail have even started to grow; these are not fully developed until the bird is fully grown, in September. In the full juvenal plumage, of late summer, the throet and chin are white, mottled with blackish; the remainder of the head and neck varies from “hair brown” above to smoke gray below; the mantle is much like that of the adult, “Prout’s brown” to ”cinnamon brown;” the under parts are ” neutral grays,” mixed with white; and the central belly is all white. This plumage is worn through the fall with a gradual progress, by molt, towards maturity. By December the young bird is much like the adult; but traces of immaturity, chiefly white in the throat, persist until spring and the frontal shield remains rudimentary all through the first year. At the first postnuptial molt, the following summer, the fully adult plumage is assumed. Adults have a complete postnuptial molt in the late summer and a very limited prenuptial molt in the spring, with no well-marked seasonal differences in plumage.

Food: Gallinules seek their food among the aquatic vegetation where they live. Their long toes enable them to walk with ease over the lily pads, where they may be seen picking up their food from the surface; they can also swim and dive, if necessary to secure it, or travel and climb with ease among the denser vegetation. Their food consists of seeds, roots, and soft parts of succulent water plants, snails and other small mollusks, grasshoppers, and various other insects and worms. Dr. Alexander Wetmore (1916) found that, in Porto Rico, 96.75 per cent of their food was vegetable, grass and rootlets forming 90.75 per cent and the other 6 per cent consisting of seeds of grasses and various weeds, much of which must have been picked up on dry land. The remaining 3.25 per cent was made up of insects and a few small mollusks.

Behavior: On its migrations to and from its more northern breeding resorts the Florida gallinule shows greater powers of ffight than are apparent at ordinary times; when making such a long flight, or when flying from one pond to another, it travels at a reasonable height with a direct and fairly swift flight the head and feet being extended. But when seen on its breeding grounds, or in the ponds where it feeds, its flight seems weak, labored, and awkward; it flutters along, barely skimming the surface, half flying and half running on the water, as if unable to rise: or, with a feeble, raillike flight, it just clears the tops of the swamp vegetation, into which it suddenly drops again, as if exhausted.

It swims with ease, in spite of its lack of webbed feet, punctuating its foot strokes with a graceful dovelike motion of its head; while swimming the forward parts are depressed and the hind quarters are raised, the white under tail coverts serving as a conspicuous signal. It can dive to obtain its food or to escape its enemies, often hiding under water, with its head or bill concealed among the water plants.

It seems most at ease, however, and its movements are most graceful, when walking lightly about over the lily pads, picking up its food with quick, nervous strokes, much after the manner of a barnyard fowl. It is equally at home on land where most of its food is obtained. If disturbed it runs swiftly to cover and disappears in the reeds, where it can travel with all the skill of a rail and can even climb to the tops of the tall stalks. It can easily be distinguished from the coot by the absence of the white bill, so conspicuous in that species, and by its ~more slender form; its color and its green legs will distinguish it from the purple gallinule. The red frontal shield is conspicuous only at short range and the white under tail coverts are present in all three species.

Mr. Brewster (1891) heard what he thought was the wooing note of the male, uttered while in active pursuit of the female; it sounded like “ticket-ticket-ticket-ticket (six to eight repetitions each time)..” He also writes:

The calls of these gallinules were so varied and complex that it seems hopeless to attempt a full description of them. I certainly know of no other bird which utters so many different sounds. Sometimes they gave four or five loud harsh screams, very like those of a hen in the clutches of a hawk, only slower and at longer intervals; sometimes a series of sounds closely resembling those made by a brooding hen when disturbed, but louder and sharper. Then would succeed a number of querulous, complaining cries, intermingled with subdtkd clucking. Again I heard something which sounded like this: ‘kr-r-r-r-r, kruc-kruc, lcrar-r; isAkh-kA-kh-kea-kea,” delivered rapidly and falling in pitch toward the end. Shorter notes were a single, abrubt, explosive kup, very like the cry given by a startled frog just as he jumps into the water, and a low ‘kioc-kioc or kloc-kloc-kloc.” Speaking generally, the notes were all loud, harsh, and discordant, and nearly all curl’. ously henlike. At intervals of perhaps half an hour during the greater part of the day the two birds called to one another from various parts of the swamp, evidently for the purpose of ascertaining each other’s whereabouts. They were occasionally answered by a pair in a neighboring swamp and these in turn by a third pair further off. In the early morning and late afternoon their calls were frequent and at times nearly incessant. They ceased almost entirely after nightfall, for the Florida gallinule is apparently much less nocturnal than any of the rails, if not so strictly diurnal as most of our birds.

Fall: The Florida gallinule is a summer resident only in the northern portions of its range. Birds which breed in the Northern and Central States migrate south in the fall to the southern tier of States and perhaps farther. The species winters regularly as far north as South Carolina and southern California, but even there it is much less common than in summer. Its flesh is good to eat and it is probably shot to some extent by gunners out after other game; but it has never been considered muc.h of a game bird. Doctor Wetinore (1916) says that in Porto Rico it ranks as a game bird and that its eggs are persistently hunted for food.

Range: Southeastern Canada, the United States, islands of the Caribbean Sea, and South and Central America.

Breeding range: North to California (San Francisco Bay and near Sacramento); probably Arizona (Tucson); N4raska (Omaha); Minnesota (Heron Lake and Minneapolis); Wisconsin (Madison, Milton, and Kelley Brook); Michigan (Kalamazoo ~nd Detroit); southern Ontario (Hamilton, Toronto, Pictou, Kingston, and Ottawa); Quebec (Montreal); Vermont (St. Albans); and Massachusetts (Belmont, Provincetown, and Truro). East to Massachusetts (Cambridge and Truro); New York (Long Island City); Pennsylvania (Philadelphia); Delaware (Odessa); North Carolina (Lake Ellis); the Bermuda, Islands; South Carolina (Charleston and Frogmore); Georgia (Savannah and probably Blackbeard Island); Florida (Fernandina, St. Augitstine, Titusville, Kissimmee, and Lake Okeechobee); the Bahama Islands (New Providence, Watling Island and Great Inagua); Porto Rico; St. Croix the Lesser Antilles (Anguilla, St. Thomas, Guadeloupe, Domiiiica, Martinique, St. Lucia, formerly Barbados, Grenada, Tobago, and Trinidad); Brazil (Caicara, Cantagallo, Piracicaba, and Iguap.2); and Argentina (Parana River and Buenos Aires). South to Argentina (Buenos Aires); and Chile (Concepcion). West to Chile (Concepcion Lake, Aculco, Sacaya, and Sitani) ; Peru (Chorillas and Valley of the Tambo); the Galapagos Islands; Colombia (Antioquja); Nicaragua (Los Sabalos); Honduras (Lake Vojoa); Guatemala (Lake Duenas and Lake Amatitlan); Mexico, Qaxaca (Tehuantepec); Topic (Tepic); and California (Escondido, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, Stockton, and Sacramento).

Spring or summer occurrences north of the known breeding range are Colorado (Colorado Springs, May 9,1882); South Dakota (Vermilion, April 15, 1899); Ontario (Beaumauris); Quebec (Quebec); and Maine (Calais).

Winter range: The Florida gallinule appears to be resident throughout its breeding range in South and Central America. At season it has been found north to California (Los Angeles); probably Arizona (Tucson); Texas (Aransas Bay, Lake Surprise, and Port Arthur); Louisiana (Vermilion Bay and New Orleans); Florida (St. Vincent Islands Tallahassee and Gainesville); and South Carolinia (Ashepoo River and Cooper River).

The species has a few curious northern winter records as, Pennsylvania (Richmond, February 12, 1913); Massachusetts (Ware, about December 15, 1909 and Palmer); and Minnesota (Minneapolis, January 23, 1915).

Spring migration: Early dates of arrival are; District of Columbia, Washington, April 19, 1892; Pennsylvania, Waynesburg, April 26, 1894 and Germantown, May 2,1888; New Jersey, Camden, April 25, 1914; New York, Cannndaigua, April 12, 1905, Cruger’s Island, April 16, 1922, Branchport, April 18, 1914, Phoenix, April 26, 1891 and Rochester, April 27, 1919; Massachusetts, Cambridge, April 30, 1896; Vermont, Little Otter Creek, April 28, 1879; Quebec, Montreal, April 26,1913; Kentucky, Versailles, April 11, 1905; Illinois; Quincy, April 3,1889, Elgin, April 21, 1914 and Morgan Park, April 24,1902; Indiana, Richmond, March 17, 1917, Waterloo, March 30, 1907, Greencastle, April 6,1894, Irvington, April 16, 1888 and Indianapolis, April 23, 1916; Ohio, Columbus, March 25, 1917, Sandusky, March 28, 1908, Oberlin, April 11, 1921, Lakeside, April 15, 1917, Wooster, April 19, 1890 and Youngstown, April 30, 1917; Michigan, Albion, March 31, 1896, Vicksburg, April 19, 1912, Ann Arbor, April 23, 1916 and Bay City, May 2,1891; Ontario, near Toronto, April 8,1892, Todmorden, April 17, 1891 and Queensborough, April 19, 1906; Iowa, National, April 18, 1909, Hillsboro April 18, 1896 and Grinnell, April 28, 1890; Wisconsin, Milwaukee, April 12, 1914, Whitewater, April 5,1914 and Madison, April 26, 1908; Minnesota, Goodhue, April 2, 1918; Kansas, Lawrence, April 19, 1907 and Nebraska, Dunbar, April 27, 1899.

Fall migration: Latc dates of fall departure are: Minnesota, Hutchinson, October 25, 1914; Wisconsin, Milwaukee, October 3, 1914, and November 25, 1886; Iowa, Marshalltown, October 17, 1914; Ontario, Toronto, October 1, 1898, Point Pelee, October 9, 1906, Ottawa, October 19, 1910, and Todmorden, October 10, 1891; Michigan, Detroit, Octoder 9,1907, and Vicksburg, November 16, 1910; Ohio, Cleveland, October 4, 1885, Lakeside, November 11, 1916, Oberlin, November 11, 1910, and New Bremen, November 16, 1909; Indiana, Richmond, October 15, 1912; Illinois, Calumet, October 23, 1876; Quebec, Montreal, October 29, 1895, and November 5,1898; Maine, Falmouth, September 30, 1894, and Portland, October 15, 1907; Vermont, Rutland, September 20, 1915; Massachusetts, near Springfield, October 1,1884, Sudbury, October 2, 1880, Essex County, October 3,1903, and Cambridge, October 6, 1912; Rhode Island, Point Judith, November 29, 1900; Connecticut, New Haven, September 30, 1902, Norwich, October 2, 1907, Quinnipiac Marshes, October 10, 1913, and Lyme, October 16, 1897; New York, Rochester, October 4, 1919, Geneva, October 10, 1914, Rhinebeck, October 16, 1921, Shelter Island, October 28, 1898, and Sayville, November 28, 1886; Pennsylvania, Erie, October 7,1891, and Carlisle, October 18, 1841; and Virginia, Surrey County, October 21, 1915, and Quantico, October 29, 1882.

Casual records: Florida gallinules also have been observed or taken in New Brunswick (St. Johns, September, 1880); Nova Scotia (near Kentville, September 20, 1886) ; and Newfoundland (one reported in a newspaper as captured at Colinet in the fall of 1911).

(Author’s note: The above distribution is for the entire species, formerly known as Gallimula galeata, including all the American forms. Two new forms have been described from the West Indies and others may be found there. There are at least three other forms in southern and western South America. But apparently the ranges of the different forms can not yet be definitely outlined.]

Egg dates: New York: 23 records, May 9 to July 5; 12 records, May 23 to June 10. Pennsylvania and New Jersey: 25 records, May 22 to July 19; 13 records, May 3() to June 22. Michigan and Wisconsin: 29 records, May 20 to July 4; 15 records, May 30 to June 12. California: 24 records, May 5 to July 9; 12 records, May 22 to June 15. Texas: 8 records, May 16 to July 25.

About the Author

Sam Crowe

Sam is the founder of He has been birding for over 30 years and has a world list of over 2000 species. He has served as treasurer of the Texas Ornithological Society, Sanctuary Chair of Dallas Audubon, Editor of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's "All About Birds" web site and as a contributing editor for Birding Business magazine. Many of his photographs and videos can be found on the site.

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