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 Gallinula chloropus

This taxon is Not Recognised as a species by BirdLife International.

Taxonomic source(s)
AERC TAC. 2003. AERC TAC Checklist of bird taxa occurring in Western Palearctic region, 15th Draft. Available at: # _the_WP15.xls#.
Cramp, S.; Perrins, C. M. 1977-1994. Handbook of the birds of Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The birds of the western Palearctic. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
SACC. 2006. A classification of the bird species of South America. Available at: #

Taxonomic note
Gallinula chloropus and G. galeata (del Hoyo and Collar 2014) were previously lumped as G. chloropus following Sibley and Monroe (1990, 1993).

Behaviour This species is predominantly sedentary or locally dispersive, but makes partially or fully migratory movements in the northern parts of its range due to its vulnerability to freezing conditions (Taylor and van Perlo 1998). Most northern populations move south from September to December, returning again from March to May (del Hoyo et al. 1996). The species breeds in solitary territorial pairs during the spring, especially during wet months (the exact timing varying geographically) (del Hoyo et al. 1996). It remains largely solitary throughout the year although juveniles and adults may form diurnal feeding groups of up to 30 individuals in the winter, especially during hard weather (Taylor and van Perlo 1998), often congregating on sheltered lakes and ponds (del Hoyo et al. 1996). Habitat The species inhabits freshwater wetlands, both still and moving, requiring easy access to open water (del Hoyo et al. 1996) and showing a preference for waters sheltered by woodland, bushes or tall emergent vegetation (del Hoyo et al. 1996, Taylor and van Perlo 1998). Suitable habitats include slow-flowing rivers (del Hoyo et al. 1996, Taylor and van Perlo 1998), oxbow lakes (Taylor and van Perlo 1998), streams, canals, ditches, lakes, reservoirs, sites with small open water surfaces such as pools and ponds only a few metres across, swamps, marshes (del Hoyo et al. 1996, Taylor and van Perlo 1998), seasonally flooded sites (del Hoyo et al. 1996) such as flood-plains (Taylor and van Perlo 1998), disused gravel pits, rice-fields (del Hoyo et al. 1996, Taylor and van Perlo 1998), sewage ponds (Taylor and van Perlo 1998), and occasionally mangroves (Puerto Rico)and seashores (Azerbaijan) (Taylor and van Perlo 1998). It generally avoids very open sites (especially those exposed to wind or wave action) (del Hoyo et al. 1996, Taylor and van Perlo 1998) and oligotrophic or saline habitats (although it may be found on brackish waters) (del Hoyo et al. 1996, Taylor and van Perlo 1998). When foraging the species may range onto drier grassland, agricultural land or meadows, and on migration and in the winter months it can often be observed on damp grassland away from water (Taylor and van Perlo 1998). Diet The species is omnivorous and opportunistic, its diet consisting of earthworms, crustaceans, molluscs, adult and larval insects (especially flies, mayflies, caddisflies, bugs, beetles and Lepidoptera), spiders, small fish, tadpoles and occasionally birds eggs, as well as plant matter such as filamentous algae, moss, the vegetative parts of reeds and aquatic plants, the seeds of reeds, rushes, sedges, water-lilies, waterside herbaceous vegetation, trees (Ulmus spp.) and cereal crops, flowers of Eichhornia spp., and the berries and fruits of yew, Rubus, Sorbus, Rosa, Crataegus, Rhamnus, Hedera, Sambucus, Hippophae spp. and various orchard trees (del Hoyo et al. 1996). Breeding site The nest varies between a shallow saucer and a deep cup constructed from twigs and waterside vegetation, and can be floating on or positioned up to 1 m above water in emergent vegetation, or positioned on a solid platform of branches in water. Less often the nest is placed in ground vegetation or in low bushes on the bank near water, or in bushes and trees up to 8 m from the ground (del Hoyo et al. 1996). Management information Early harvesting in rice-fields should be avoided as it harms nests and young broods of this species (Taylor and van Perlo 1998).

The species is susceptible to avian influenza (Melville and Shortridge 2006, Gaidet et al. 2007) and avian botulism (Forrester et al. 1980), so may be threatened by future outbreaks of these diseases. It also suffers nest predation from American mink Neovison vison in the UK (Ferreras and MacDonald 1999). Utilisation The species is hunted for local consumption and trade in Sumatra (Taylor and van Perlo 1998) and Malawi (Bhima 2006), for sport in the USA (Taylor and van Perlo 1998) , and for commercial and recreational purposes in Gilan Province, northern Iran (Balmaki and Barati 2006).

Balmaki, B.; Barati, A. 2006. Harvesting status of migratory waterfowl in northern Iran: a case study from Gilan Province. In: Boere, G.; Galbraith, C., Stroud, D. (ed.), Waterbirds around the world, pp. 868-869. The Stationary Office, Edinburgh, UK.

Bhima, R. 2006. Subsistence use of waterbirds at Lake Chilwa, Malawi. In: Boere, G.; Galbraith, C., Stroud, D. (ed.), Waterbirds around the world, pp. 255-256. The Stationary Office, Edinburgh, UK.

Brazil, M. 2009. Birds of East Asia: eastern China, Taiwan, Korea, Japan, eastern Russia. Christopher Helm, London.

del Hoyo, J.; Elliott, A.; Sargatal, J. 1996. Handbook of the Birds of the World, vol. 3: Hoatzin to Auks. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.

Delany, S.; Scott, D. 2006. Waterbird population estimates. Wetlands International, Wageningen, The Netherlands.

Ferreras, P.; MacDonald, D. W. 1999. The impact of American mink Mustela vison on water birds in the upper Thames. Journal of Applied Ecology 36: 701-708.

Forrester, D. J.; Wenner, K. C.; White, F. H.; Greiner, E. C.; Marion, W. R.; Thul, J. E.; Berkhoff, G. A. 1980. An epizootic of avian botulism in a phosphate mine settling pond in northern Florida. Journal of Wildlife Diseases 16(3): 323-327.

Gaidet, N.; Dodman, T.; Caron, A.; Balança, G.; Desvaux, S.; Goutard, F.; Cattoli, G.; Lamarque, F.; Hagemeijer, W.; Monicat, F. 2007. Avian Influenza Viruses in Water Birds, Africa. Emerging Infectious Diseases 13(4): 626-629.

Melville, D. S.; Shortridge, K. F. 2006. Migratory waterbirds and avian influenza in the East Asian-Australasian Flyway with particular reference to the 2003-2004 H5N1 outbreak. In: Boere, G.; Galbraith, C., Stroud, D. (ed.), Waterbirds around the world, pp. 432-438. The Stationary Office, Edinburgh, UK.

Taylor, B. 1998. Rails: a guide to the rails, crakes, gallinules and coots of the world. Pica Press, Robertsbridge, UK.

Further web sources of information
Detailed species account from Birds in Europe: population estimates trends and conservation status (BirdLife International 2004)

Detailed species account from Birds in Europe: population estimates, trends and conservation status (BirdLife International 2004)

View photos and videos and hear sounds of this species from the Internet Bird Collection

Text account compilers
Ekstrom, J., Butchart, S., Malpas, L.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2014) Species factsheet: Gallinula chloropus. Downloaded from on 29/07/2014. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2014) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 29/07/2014.

This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000) Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004) Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife

To contribute to discussions on the evaluation of the IUCN Red List status of Globally Threatened Birds, please visit BirdLife's Globally Threatened Bird Forums.

Additional resources for this species

ARKive species - Common moorhen (Gallinula chloropus)

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Not Recognised
Family Rallidae (Rails, Gallinules, Coots)
Species name author (Linnaeus, 1758)