Bird of the month – August 2022 – The Moorhen

Have you seen the bird of the month?

For August it is the: Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus)


Where can I find them?

They are common and can be found down at the Lake.

As of August 2022, there are some young Moorhen chicks being seen on the Lake. Both parents are feeding them.

About the species

The Moorhen is blackish with a red and yellow beak and long legs.

They can be distinguished from the similar looking Coot by its olive-black back and the white patches under its tail.

They eat water plants, seeds, fruit, grasses, insects, snails, worms and small fish.

Moorhens typically live for around three years.

It spends more time out of the water than its relative the Coot.

When disturbed, they usually take cover in nearby vegetation. They do not take to the air as their flight is short and laboured.

UK breeding birds are residents and seldom travel far.

The species is on the UK amber list, meaning its population and conservation status is of moderate concern.

What do they sound like?

A burst of harsh kek notes, often in groups of three or four.

Where do they nest and what is the nest made from?

Both the male and female build the nest, which looks like a “rough” platform more than a typical bird’s nest. It is normally made from reeds, bits of twigs and vegetation. Both adults defend it from other birds.

The female can lay an average of six eggs, with one being laid each day. Both parents will then share incubating the eggs for around 22 days. They can have two broods a year.

It has been known for some nests to hold more than the normal size of clutch due to another female “dumping” her eggs into the nest.
At 3 weeks of age, young chicks can forage for themselves.

Moorhen & Chick

Juveniles are browner with a paler belly and throat. The streaks on the flanks are dull white, and the bill and legs are dark.

Juvenile Moorhen

If you manage to photograph a Moorhen, within the reserve, why not share it on our Facebook page?