Family Rails, Gallinules, Coots (Rallidae)

Least Concern

Common Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus)


French: Gallinule poule-d’eau German: Teichhuhn Spanish: Gallineta común
Other common names: Eurasian Moorhen

Fulica Chloropus


, 1758,



Sometimes considered conspecific with G. tenebrosa, but they are sympatric in Wallacea. Until recently lumped with G. galeata, which differs in its highly distinctive laughing call#R#R (4); somewhat less yellow on lower mandible (1); slightly higher, more squared-off frontal shield (1); and juvenile with yellower bill and legs and darker smoky-grey face and foreneck (2). Race meridionalis sometimes erroneously listed under junior name brachyptera. Many other races described; possible races correiana (Azores) and indica (Bengal) included in nominate, as are lucida (Poland) and vestigialis (Scotland); seychellarum (Seychelles) is synonymized with orientalis, as is intermediate Philippine population lozanoi. Five subspecies recognized.

What do (1) and (2) mean? Learn more about the scoring system.
Subspecies and Distribution
  • G. c. chloropus (Linnaeus, 1758) – Europe, N Africa, Azores, Madeira#R, Canaries and Cape Verde Is E through W, C & S Asia to Japan, S to Sri Lanka and C Malay Peninsula; N populations winter S to Mediterranean region, sub-Saharan Africa and S Asia.
  • G. c. meridionalis (C. L. Brehm, 1831) – sub-Saharan Africa, São Tomé and Príncipe#R, and St Helena.
  • G. c. pyrrhorrhoa A. Newton, 1861 – Comoro Is, Madagascar, Reunion and Mauritius.
  • G. c. orientalis Horsfield, 1821 – Seychelles, Andaman Is, S Peninsular Malaysia, Greater Sundas and W Lesser Sundas to Philippines and Palau Is.
  • G. c. guami E. J. O. Hartert, 1917 – Northern Mariana Is and Guam.
  • Descriptive notes

    30–38 cm; male 249–493 (339) g, female 192–343 (271) g (chloropus), unsexed 173–335 (245) g (meridionalis); wingspan 50–55 cm... read more


    Wide variety of clucking and chattering calls. Most familiar are advertising call (crowing), a loud... read more


    Exploits wide range of natural and man-made freshwater wetlands with fringing emergent vegetation;... read more

    Food and feeding

    Omnivorous; proportions of plant and animal food vary. Plants include filamentous algae, moss, vegetative parts of Lemna... read more


    Europe, Mar–Aug; N Africa, Apr–Aug; W Africa, Jun–Aug but all year S Ghana, except at peak of wet season; E Africa, all... read more


    In W Palearctic, resident or dispersive in S and extreme W, partially migratory to migratory... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Most races at least locally common. Nominate generally common throughout range; has expanded range in N Europe since mid-19th century... read more

    Recommended citation

    Taylor, B., Christie, D.A. & Kirwan, G.M. (2019). Common Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 13 December 2019).