Family Rails, Gallinules, Coots (Rallidae)

Least Concern

Dusky Moorhen (Gallinula tenebrosa)


French: Gallinule sombre German: Papuateichhuhn Spanish: Gallineta enlutada

Gallinula tenebrosa


, 1846,

New South Wales and South Australia#R


Sometimes treated as conspecific with G. chloropus, but sympatric in Wallacea. Three subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • G. t. frontata Wallace, 1863 – Sulawesi through Sula Is (Taliabu), S Moluccas and Lesser Sundas to W & SE New Guinea.
  • G. t. neumanni E. J. O. Hartert, 1930 – N New Guinea.
  • G. t. tenebrosa Gould, 1846 – Australia and Tasmania.
  • Local in New Britain and New Caledonia (probably a recent colonist on both islands), subspecies unknown#R.

    Descriptive notes

    35–40 cm (New Guinea birds 25–32 cm); nominate 336–720 (525) g, neumanni 290–370 (333) g; wingspan 55–65 cm. Darker and more uniform in... read more


    Territorial advertising call a raucous, crowing “kurk”; calls sometimes repeated or run together.... read more


    Inhabits permanent or ephemeral wetlands, usually freshwater but sometimes brackish or saline:... read more

    Food and feeding

    Vegetable matter, including algae, and vegetative parts, seeds and fruits of plants of: Azollaceae, Hydrocharitaceae, Potomogetonaceae,... read more


    Sulawesi, possibly Apr, downy young Mar; Seram, juvenile, May; New Guinea, small young May–Jun; Australia, Aug–Mar. Territorial... read more


    In Australia sedentary, nomadic or dispersive, possibly partly migratory. Apparently occurs... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). In Australia, nominate race widespread and common in E and inland range is expanding: small population recently established in N... read more

    Recommended citation

    Taylor, B. (2020). Dusky Moorhen (Gallinula tenebrosa). 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 25 February 2020).