Moorhen or swamp chicken - what do we know about her?


The life of the water chicken depends on the aquatic environment. Her favorite places of settlement are slow-moving rivers, swamps or ponds with dense and abundant vegetation on the banks. Moorhen, settled in warm regions, live sedentary. Birds inhabiting the northern areas are sent for wintering to the south.

Moorhen inhabits Africa, Eurasia, and the entire American continent. She prefers mostly lowlands, but feels great in the mountainous terrain. In Nepal, representatives of this species occasionally occur even at altitudes of up to 4,000 m.

Currently, there are 16 subspecies living in a variety of climatic conditions. The population of the European population is estimated at 900 thousand pairs.

Outside the nesting season, water chickens prefer to live alone. In winter, they gather in flocks, going in search of a reservoir with non-freezing water. Birds make their migratory flights on clear nights, when the mirror-like water surface is visible under moonlight.

The bird goes to feed long before dawn and methodically bypasses all its possessions. In search of food, she checks all the vegetation on the shore of the reservoir and can dip her head in the water, noticing there is a suitable piece.

The diet of the water chicken is very diverse. Entering into it flowers, leaves, young shoots and seeds of both water and land plants. Moorhen gladly regale fish fry, insects, small crustaceans and tadpoles. Occasionally she stops to rest and cleans the feathers.

Sometimes the bird comes to the plowed fields, if they are close to the reservoir. She can climb the branches of the bushes, clasping them with her long and clawed fingers, helping herself with the flapping of her wings.

Moorhen is very shy and, sensing the slightest danger, quickly hiding in the coastal thickets. If the refuge is located far away, the bird can reach it with a short flight. In the absence of ground cover, she dives under the water and, clinging to the grass with her paws and putting her head to the surface, observes what is happening around.

In a straight line, the water hen flies rather quickly. Short wings do not contribute to maneuverability, so it performs turns in a large arc.


With the first days of spring, the male begins to look for a secluded place for the nest. Making daily rounds on his home site, he loud noises and demonstration of luxurious white tail feathers, announces his rights to him. Any competitor who has encroached on the occupied territory, the site owner attacks, stretching his head forward, spreading his tail and ruffling feathers.

He will pursue the fleeing opponent, and if he does not retreat, the fight cannot be avoided. Having taken a warlike look, opponents begin to fight using clawed paws and wings. Such fights can end in serious injury. Having found out the relationship, the duelists peacefully disperse, and at the site of the recent battle lies a new frontier between their possessions.

In the first half of March a female comes to the territory of the male. He begins to give her signs of attention, circling around her in high spirits, plunging his beak into the water and making guttural sounds. If a girlfriend is fascinated by such attention and refinement of manners, then she repeats his actions. Then the partners begin to swim and feed together, and in the rare moments of rest, sitting on the bank, to sort out each other's feathers.

Mating occurs on the mating platform, pre-built by the male. Then, for 5 days, the future father collects blade of grass, and his spouse makes a nest of them.

The nest may be built on water or on land, but it is always safely hidden from prying eyes. The female lays up to 7 eggs, and for 22 days the parents take turns laying on the line.

Chicks are born simultaneously. They have rudimentary claws on their wings, which help babies to get out of the nest. With the advent of the last chick, the whole family leaves the nest. Over the next 4 weeks, parents feed their children with insects, pieces of plants, and teach them the necessary skills.

Already on the tenth day in the event of the death of parents, intelligent kids can take care of themselves by starting to look for the necessary food themselves. At the age of 25 days, the chicks begin feeding on their own, but for another 45 days do not leave their parents. Two months later, they have adult plumage and at the age of 80 days they are fully prepared for independent living.

By this time, the female already postpones the second clutch, so the father takes care of the brood. After the appearance of new offspring, older chicks help their parents. They build floating platforms, feed younger brethren and each other. In winter, families break up, and the young next year will start breeding.

The body length of a water chicken reaches 35 cm, weight up to 300 g. Males are slightly larger than females. The abdomen of the males is darker.

The pointed beak is painted in two colors. Its base is red and the tip is yellow. On the forehead there is a characteristic reddish leathery spot.

Slightly flattened on the sides of the body helps to easily overcome the thickets. Short wings allow you to make a quick flight. Extreme tail feathers are white and horseshoe-shaped. The head is blackish, the wings and upper torso are brown. The belly is gray.

Muscular legs are painted a pale green-yellow color with a small red ring on the lower leg. Elongated thin fingers armed with claws. There is no swimming membrane between them.

In the natural habitat, the moorhen lives about 9-11 years.

Appearance of moorhen

This small bird the size of a pigeon has a body weight of 192 - 493 g, a wingspan of 192 - 493 cm and a body length of 27 - 31 cm.

The plumage color is slate gray or black-brown with some shade of blue on the neck. A white stripe is clearly visible on a white undertail. On the sides of the body are white stripes. In winter, the belly of the bird somewhat brightens, the back and head become olive-brown. Primary primary feathers are colored dark gray. After a molt period, the tips of the feathers on the front of the abdomen and the breast become white, which makes the plumage pockmarked.

The beak of a moorhen has a triangular shape. At the end it is painted in greenish or yellowish shades, and at the base in red. A bright red spot on any look looks like a continuation of the beak. The iris is colored red-brown most of the time, and only during the mating period does it turn dark red. Strong and long legs with somewhat elongated toes are well adapted for moving along the swampy shores. Claws slightly curved. Unlike many other species of waterfowl, the Moorhen has almost no membranes on the fingers. Females of moorhen are smaller than males, and their abdomen is colored in lighter tones.

Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus).

Young in appearance is markedly different from adults. The plumage in young birds is predominantly light brown, with a somewhat grayish chest, throat, and chin. Like adult birds, young scallions have white stripes on the sides, and the undertail is white, but their beak is gray with a yellow tip, and the leathery red spot on the forehead is not developed.

Habitat moorhen

Within Europe, the bird is found almost everywhere. The only exceptions are the highland regions of Scandinavia, the Alps and the north of the Russian Federation. In Russia, the northern limit of the range is at 60 ° c. sh. through the Karelian Isthmus, Vologda, Novgorod regions, Bashkortostan, Tatarstan, Altai Territory and Omsk Region. The moorhen inhabits the Primorsky Territory, in the Far East, as well as on the southern Kurile Islands and Sakhalin. On the territory of the Asian continent the bird lives in the southeast up to the Philippines, and is also found in India. There is no moorhen arid and steppe regions of Central and Central Asia. There is no this bird in Western Siberia.

In Africa, the moorhen dwells only in the southern part of the continent, as well as in the west in the region of Algeria and the Congo, and in Madagascar.

Within North America, bird nesting sites are located in the east and south of the United States (States east of Kansas, Minnesota, Texas, Nebraska, as well as in Arizona, California and New Mexico). Also this bird is a permanent inhabitant on the islands of the Caribbean, in Central America and in South America from Peru and Argentina to Brazil.

Habitat reed chickens

The moorhen prefers to stay on artificial and natural freshwater bodies of water with shores thickly covered with sedge, reed and other plants. Water in such reservoirs can be both standing and flowing, and in size such a reservoir can be both small and large. Within the reservoir, the moorhen selects places with thickets of shrubs on the shore, duckweed on the water and marshy shores. Within the European continent, the bird lives mainly in lowland landscapes. In Switzerland, for example, the moor is difficult to meet at an altitude of more than 800 m, and in Germany at an altitude of more than 600 m above sea level. In Transcaucasia, the bird lives at an altitude of up to 1800 m, and in Nepal, up to a height of 4575 m above sea level.

The moorhen is usually a silent bird, but is capable of making a series of loud and harsh sounds.

Moorhen migrations

Moorhes in most of the habitat are sedentary. Only in the northernmost parts of the range is this species fully or partially migratory. In Europe, the proportion of migratory birds decreases from northeast to southwest. In Finland and the CIS countries, most birds migrate.

In the north of Germany, in Poland and Scandinavia, only a small number of birds remain for wintering. In Western Europe, almost all individuals are sedentary. And Northern Europe migratory moorhenes fly to the southwest and west to Italy, the Iberian Peninsula, the British Isles, the Balkans and North Africa. Populations in Eastern and Central Europe make seasonal flights from north-west to south-east or from north to south.

Moorhes fly from Western Siberia to winter to the south of Central Asia, the Caspian Sea coast, to Iran, Afghanistan, Iraq and the countries of the Middle East. From Eastern Siberia, moorhen migrate to Southeast Asia and China. The American population of moorhen migrates to the territory north of Florida and the Gulf of Mexico.

Despite the absence of characteristic waterfowl membranes, the water chicken swims superbly.

Eating marsh chicken

The diet of the moorns includes both food of plant and animal origin. She obtains food by floating on the surface of the water and immersing her head from time to time in the water, or walking in shallow water and turning over leaves of duckweed, water lilies and other aquatic plants. Sometimes in search of food the bird dives under the surface of the water. On land, the moorhen feeds on low-flying insects, as well as on berries of shrubs and trees, and seeds of grassy plants. It also consumes young shoots of near-water and aquatic plants, such as algae, Nymphaeaceae, reed. The diet also includes amphibians, mollusks and a variety of invertebrates.

Keeping and breeding Chinese silk chickens

In the East, they turn on even as pets. The birds have a very calm and friendly nature, they willingly make contact with the person. Can contain with other peace-loving breeds. Often they are kept in contact zoos.

On the farm, Chinese silk can become the hen for the eggs of those breeds that have reduced maternal instinct. She readily heats not only chicken eggs, but pheasants, quail.

Keep them in optimal conditions for normal breeds. If there is a need for year-round egg carrying, then a good temperature is maintained in the room and lamps are installed. They do not know how to fly, so they do not set the roost. In the warm season, they walk, they are protected by a net from predators.

Silk Hens Reviews

They are spoken of as beautiful birds with unusual plumage. They are not suitable for the production of meat and eggs for sale, but do an excellent job of incubation. Also note the simplicity of the content and strong immunity.

The birds themselves clean fluff well, do not like dirt, so no need to make efforts to process the material, but the room must always be cleaned. It is recommended to cut them regularly so that the fluff is constantly updated.

A significant drawback of the breed is the high cost of both eggs and adults. It will have to pay 5 dollars for it, about 7 for a chicken, and 50 for adults. But the livestock is successfully hatched at home, placing eggs in an incubator or under a hen. For 5 chickens need 1 cock.

Usually get no more than 10 individuals, because they are not profitable. Therefore, the breed is not popular on farms, they are bought into home farms with a purely decorative purpose or for a small collection of eggs or meat.

Moorhen (water chicken)

Moorhen, also called the water hen, lives on all continents except Antarctica. One of the most common birds, it lives very secretively and rarely catches the eye.
Habitat It lives in Africa, Asia, Europe and both Americas.

The life of the moorhen is closely related to the aquatic environment. Water-filled ditches, swamps, slow-flowing rivers and irrigation canals with densely overgrown shores are the favorite habitats of this bird. Populations inhabiting places with a mild and warm climate usually live sedentary, and birds nesting in the northern parts of the range, where water bodies freeze in winter, fly to winter to the south. Moorhes are found on almost all continents of the planet, with the exception of Australia, Antarctica and the Arctic Arctic.

Species: Moorhen (water chicken) - Gallinula chloropus.
Family: Shepherd's.
Squad: Crane.
Class: Birds.
Subtype: Vertebrates.

Outside the nesting season, moorhes live in solitude. In winter, birds sometimes gather in temporary flocks of several dozen individuals, and at this time there is no more important task for them than the search for a non-freezing reservoir. Moorhenes, wintering in warm countries, make migratory flights on serene nights, when it is easy to see pure mirror from above. Waking up to dawn, the moorhen comes out to feed and swim or swim around her site on foot. In search of food, the bird surveys the soil, water surface and coastal vegetation, and sometimes dips its head into the water in order to pull out a tidbit. Buds, young shoots, flowers, leaves, fruits and seeds of many land and aquatic plants are included in the rich diet of the moorhen. The bird also willingly eats small crustaceans, spiders, insects, fry, tadpoles and does not squeeze carrion. From time to time the moorhen stops to rest and clean the feathers. Sometimes the moorhen appear on the meadows or plowed fields, but they certainly stay close to the water. Birds climb well on the branches.

At the end of winter, the male moorhen looks for a suitable place to build a nest and declares its rights to the nearest neighborhood. The owner designates the boundaries of his section, making regular rounds, making loud cries and showing everyone the white feathers of his tail. If another male thinks of encroaching on his territory, the bird immediately attacks the stranger, stretching his head with a sharp beak and a red plaque on his forehead, vigorously shaking his wings and wringing his tail. If the intruder takes flight, the master pursues him by running or swimming, but if the stranger does not retreat, the fight on land or on water cannot be avoided. Having taken a fighting stance, opponents struggle to beat each other with wings and long clawed paws, sometimes causing serious wounds. After finding out the relations, the rivals disperse, and the place of the duel becomes the border of the neighboring sections. In March, the female appears on the territory of the male. The gentleman starts swimming around her with a proud look, continually dropping his beak into the water and uttering low guttural cries.

Did you know?
Moorhen's oval eggs are enclosed in a brilliant creamy shell with brown, purple and black specks.
Marital and sleeping platforms are a sloppy pile of stems and leaves. A much tidier nest is made of branches, and its cup-shaped tray is lined with leaves, grass and reed down. The usual height of the nest is 15 cm, the internal diameter is 25 cm.
Ornithologists, depending on the habitat of the birds, distinguish 12 subspecies of moorhen.

Moorhen (water chicken) - Gallinula chloropus.
Body length: 32-35 cm.
Wingspan: 50-55 cm.
Weight: 250-300 g.
The number of eggs in the clutch: 5-7.
Incubation time: 19-22 days.
Puberty: 1 year.
Food: seeds, berries, small invertebrates.
Lifespan: 11 years.

The structure of moorhen.
Beak. The short, pointed beak is painted in two colors: red at the base and yellow at the end.
Head. On the forehead there is a red plaque.
Wings. Short and wide wings ensure quick straight-line flight.
Body. Слегка сжатое с боков тело позволяет птице пробираться сквозь густые заросли водных растений.
Хвост. Крайние рулевые перья окрашены в белый цвет и уложены в форме подковы.
Окраска. Голова черная, спина и крылья сверху коричневые, снизу темно-серые. Вдоль боков тянутся белые полоски.
Ноги. Strong legs painted yellow-green with a reddish ring on the shins.
Fingers. Long fingers end with sharp, hooked, curved claws.

Related species.
The shepherd's family combines small-sized birds living along the banks of freshwater bodies. All shepherd's swim well, have a concealing plumage, a short tail and have an excellent scent. The shepherd's family consists of three groups: coot, water chickens and sultanks, shouldertaps and shepherd boys. Moorhen is a group of water chickens and sultanok numbering 21 species.