About animals

Moorhen, or water chicken (Gallinula chloropus)


It is impossible to imagine our planet without feathered animals with limbs in the shape of wings. Without their voices, feathers, bewitching flights, the world would have lost its color. Some species cannot fly, do not have bright colors, but this does not reduce their originality.

Features and habitat of moorhen

Waterfowl moorhen bird found on all continents except Antarctica and Australia. You will not see her in the highlands of the Alps, Scandinavia, northern Russia, the steppe regions of Asia and in Western Siberia.

Wetlands with standing or running water, grassy thicket - an ideal place for settlement. Despite the large number of populations, a date with her in the wilderness is a rarity. But it adapts painlessly to a person’s neighborhood, and he associates this bird with a small domestic duck or chicken.

The weight of an individual varies from 200 g to 500 g, the length of the body reaches an average of 30 cm. photo moorhen has a different plumage: from dark brown to light gray, with bluish tones in the neck.

On the sides are white rims, the under tail with a black stripe. Depending on the season, the feathers on the belly acquire a light color, the back is cast with a brown-olive color.

When its bright red beak of a triangular shape is ajar, a low-frequency chirping scream, similar to a magpie, is made. And in case of danger - a guarded quiet "kurr". She is not a lover of "chatting", but during the mating season she does not fall silent, she is able to scream very loudly and sharply.

Character and lifestyle of moorhen

At most habitats moorhen leads a sedentary lifestyle, but in the northern regions the weather forces to migrate. On the territory of the CIS countries, mainly partially or fully migratory individuals live. They nest in a quiet secluded area, away from relatives and other birds.

She has a frightened “character”, but perfectly adapted legs for moving in marshland, allow her to run fast. These are long and strong limbs, with elongated fingers, between them there are no membranes, like other waterfowl.

Wings also help hide in the undergrowth. The bird runs on water, takes off, and having reached shelter, sits down. It moves well, during spring flights purposefully and quickly overcomes distances.

Outwardly, individuals of the opposite sex practically do not differ from each other, just males are larger, and in females the abdomen is slightly lighter. An interesting fact is the principle of pairing, their female gender is fighting for the right to possess a male. Individuals form families that last for several years.

Moorhen Nutrition

Activity peak moorhen duck falls on morning dawns and evening twilight. It produces food within the nesting area, and during wintering it also does not go beyond the borders of forage territories. Unpretentious in food, consumes both vegetable and animal food:

  • shoots of young plants, reeds, algae in the water,
  • seeds, berries, crawling insects on land,
  • small amphibians, invertebrates, mollusks.

In areas close to urbanization, flocks feed from 5 to 20 individuals. Sometimes you will see them along the main ditches, on agricultural land with water shepherds.

The purple moorhen is pictured

When looking for food, they can wander for a long time along the shallows and shores, motionlessly freeze at the water's edge with reed beds, turn over the leaves of duckweed and water lilies. Floating on the surface of the water, periodically immerses the head, in time with the movement of the limbs, and the body twitches a short, raised tail.

Falls asleep in nests, bumps or snags, it can be up to 10 m high. Rarely dozes off on the belly, mostly always alert. He rests and sleeps in one position, standing on one paw, hiding his beak on his back or wings.

Reproduction and longevity of moorhen

Cowgirl family birds, including horned moorhen - oviparous. The species differs from its relatives in larger size and color. In the countries of Asia, they participate in fighting fights.

Sexual flowering of all cowherd girls falls at the age of 1 year. Settled families breed all year round, migrants have to breed only in the warm season, 2 egg laying occurs during the season.

In the photo a moorhen with a chick

Large nests are built up to a height of 15 cm, exceeding their own dimensions, on hills near water bodies, both male and female working. Such fortifications protect the offspring.

Females carry 5 to 9 eggs, they are reddish in shades, small in size up to 0.5 cm. The incubation period lasts up to 3 weeks, “dads” are directly involved.

Chicks are born with a black fluff, with an olive tint. When they turn 40 days old, they try to fly, they recognize the world around them, which is filled with danger.

Eagle owls, marsh harrier, common buzzard can enjoy the young. Fishing nets located at the edge of the undergrowth are also an unfavorable factor for them.

In the photo, the moorhen chick

In the first year of life, mortality reaches 70% of individuals, in the second –24%. The largest record for life expectancy, recorded according to banding, is 11 years.

Moorhen or water chicken: description

Swamp hen lives in raw forbs. Moreover, it is quite rare to find that a bird willingly flies. It rises in height occasionally. Color her from a distance looks inconspicuous, but if you look closely, you can see the unusual plumage. Marsh chickens are hunted, especially in the autumn, when they gain weight by the onset of cold weather.

Swamp hen is a frequent inhabitant of reservoirs with running water or with standing water. And you can also meet her in swampy and overgrown shores. The bird leads a secretive lifestyle, regardless of the fact that it can often be found in the wild. In European countries, birds can get used to the presence of humans.

Medium-sized water chicken reaches thirty-one centimeters long. At the same time, its weight is half the weight of the chicken and is no more than half a kilogram. The plumage is near the bird and is blue with bright pronounced narrow, white stripes on the sides near the wings. The abdomen is usually light. Occasionally you can find birds with olive and brown hues. The wings of the bird are dark and gray.

Shedding of a bird can be determined by the tips of the feathers and breast. They turn white. Some parts of the body change in their shade and become puffy. Shedding in birds can take place twice a year. It falls on the winter and autumn periods.

Outwardly, it’s quite difficult to notice the bird, because the water chicken is small. Its short beak has a bright red hue. Yellow and green colors are visible on the tip. The forehead has several bright dark red spots. The paws of the bird are well adapted to the edges where it lives. These are strong and long legs. The claws of the swamp chicken are slightly curved. The distinctive features of the bird include the absence of membranes between the fingers.

Moorhen of any gender does not stand out much. A young growth looks a little different. Their plumage has light pastel colors. While the feathers, chin, throat and chest are gray. The sponges are white. The spot on the forehead is completely red. Young moorhen finishes forming by the summer of its birth.

Moorhen - water chicken: characteristic

Moorhenitsa refers to silent birds. Only occasionally can it make sharp and loud sounds. The sound of moorhen often twitter-like terms. They make monosyllabic, loud and sharp sounds. Hunters distinguish a bird by its behavior.

  1. In time of concentration or alertness, somewhere in the distance, she can quietly make the sound of “hens-rr”.
  2. In spring and at night, moorhen can quickly shout “cre”.
  3. During the flight, the bird makes a quiet and at the same time monophonic sound.

Moorhen takes off rarely and without take-off. She flies only in a straight line and at a fast pace. Hunters distinguish moorhen in the manner of flight. She extends her neck forward, and paws spread far back. It lands in an upright position. She sits right on the branches. She can move quite quickly among the dense branches. Sometimes it is able to fly into a deep thicket.

Despite the fact that the moorhen lives in the area of ​​the swamp, she does not like water. Most of the time the bird can spend on land, near thickets. On land, she is able to move nimbly and at a fast pace. A peculiarity of the bird is to note its movement on bent legs.

To date, the number of moorhen is great. It is quite difficult to calculate how many birds are found around the world. Basically, they can be found in the Crimea. And also she lives in Ukraine, Transcaucasia. Quite often, it can be observed in Central Asia. In almost the entire middle lane of Europe, moorhen lives in a swamp. In addition, in our country, in the lower Volga, you can also find swamp chicken.

Propagation of Moorhen

Maturation in a water bird occurs no earlier than one year. Regardless of the density of the habitat, it is able to nest only in pairs. In protected areas on a small pond, only one pair of moorhen can live. In a large reservoir several pairs can live at once. Moorhen nests are eighty meters apart.

Swamp Chicken Nest several times larger than the bird itself. The diameter of the nests can be up to thirty centimeters at the end of summer. It was at this time that the chicks grow up and trample their house. The depth of such a dwelling is four centimeters. While the height of the nest is about fifteen centimeters.

Swamp birds build their nests from only one material. Quite often, water birds use reed leaves from last year. Less often they build reed nests. May mix leaves with roots found. Quite rarely you can find moorhen, which builds its nest from sedge. As a rule, the material for the nest directly depends on the bird's habitat.

The nest has a loose structure. A feathered tray is poured from raw thin leaves. After drying, they stick together and look like a smooth surface. Depending on the nature of the terrain, the nest must be placed on a stalk of reeds or reeds. In rare cases, it can be a flooded stump. The water depth can vary from fifteen centimeters to one meter. A bird can approach a nest by swimming.

Moorhen living in the reed or reed bedstrying to build their houses near the water surface. Their houses rise above the water to thirty-five centimeters. If the bird lives in a large river, then it nests only in the plant zone. Occasionally it can build a house at a height of up to three meters. But the condition is necessary - near the water surface. Like other birds, aquatic chicken lays eggs. In one clutch it can reproduce up to twelve units. But such an amount can give out in certain years of his life.

Water chicken eggs are small in size. Their shell has a matte color and a beautiful smooth shine. Their background is only pale, dirty or green. In rare cases, it may have a yellow or rusty hue. Quite often, there are obvious transitions between colors. In some cases, you can meet large or small spots on the surface of the egg. They can be light, dark, brown or gray.

A brood of moorhen passes twice and only in summer. The first time the moorhen lays eggs in the spring. It can be April or May. The second time a bird can lay eggs in the summer months - this is June or July. As soon as the females lay their eggs in the first or second clutch, the males cast their voice. This sound can be heard only at one time. In this case, the male will scream at dawn or at night. The male informs everyone of the new offspring in the thickets or in the air flying from place to place. Nests with eggs can be seen only in the summer and spring.

Chicks hatch only in late spring or midsummer. As a rule, hatching of offspring occurs on average in June. In this case, the eggs are laid by the female in a day. And incubation by a bird occurs only towards the end of the masonry. In this case, only the female is engaged in hatching. The male can only sit on the eggs for a short time. Nests are protected only by a couple. The whole process lasts for a little less than a month.

Chicks hatch, as a rule, during the day, and there are times when in a few hours. The average clutch can be no more than six eggs. In a number of other cases, hatching may continue for six days. In this case, the female can not be disturbed, otherwise she will fly away to nest in another place. A disturbed bird can carry small testicles on its feet. But this can happen only if the nest is located high above the height and the female can rise into the air from the nest.

Chicks immediately after birth are able to how to swim and dive. Chicks from the first brood can leave their parents early. As soon as they reach one hundred and eighty grams, they scatter into reed beds. There they gather in a nest while resting. The second conclusion leaves later.

Moorhen Moorings

Shedding in water chicken occurs upon reaching the age of one year. Typically, this period occurs in mid-July or autumn. Young birds partially change feathers. The period of their plumage change occurs at the end of summer, the beginning of winter. Changing outfits in birds is as follows.

  • downy
  • nesting or final.

Adult birds change feathers during the breeding season. Some females molt from the second half of summer. During the change of feathers, moorhen drops large and small plumage. Feathers fall out. Thus, water chicken loses its ability to fly for a while. Adult individuals by the cold season will have fresh plumage.

Size and structure of moorhen

The body of the moorhen, like most birds of this species, is compressed on both sides. She has a powerful beak of medium length. Her legs are massive and she has long fingers. And her claws are slightly bent. The membranes between the fingers of this small bird is difficult to notice. Between the beak and the forehead, she completely lacks plumage. On the rest of the body, you can notice soft and loose feathers.

The marsh chicken's tail is not too long. She has twelve feathers. To the top of her ponytail reach all the feathers of the overtail. The wings of the bird are wide and short. The first fly wings totaled eleven. It is worth noting that the size of the swamp chicken is small. The differences between male and female are barely noticeable. The difference is twenty-five millimeters in length. The average weight of a bird can reach a hundred grams.

Moorhen chicks have some differences. Down chicks are born black and have a small olive tint in the back. The head of the chick is covered with sparse fluff. Red and grayish-blue skin can be seen around. Silver hairs can also be seen on the body of the chicks. The location is the head and the area above the eyes. The feet of the chicks are the same color as the torso. The beak has a bright orange hue. While at the top it is seen as yellowish-green.

Young birds are slightly different from adults. They have a bright spot on the forehead. Part of the back has light shades, occasionally it can be brown.Golovin in young animals is white. And the neck and goiter are grayish in color. The belly can be either white or gray. The beak of young animals is painted in brown and olive colors. But by winter, the bird changes its color and turns red.

The adult bird has a black-gray plumage. It can cast a dark blue tint. The belly of the chicken is whitish. But then, on both sides of the sides visible white longitudinal stripes. The upper part of the wing and back has an olive color, despite the fact that the bird's fan is represented in only three colors.

The tail has a white beginning and a black end. The paws of the bird are only green. In this case, below you can see an orange bright color with a red bandage. The beak of an adult is only red, and black in the middle.


Moorhen is usually a silent bird, but it is able to make a number of loud and sharp sounds. Among them, one can distinguish a low-frequency chirping scream, somewhat reminiscent of magpie twitter - something like “kick-ik-ik” or “krrruk”. Another monosyllabic sound, but equally loud and sharp - “kiik” or “kirk”. A wary bird emits a quieter "kurr." During the flight or in the spring at night, moorhen cackle at a fast pace: “crack-crack-crack”.


The bird takes off without a run, flies quickly and in a straight line, making frequent deep wings flapping. In flight, the neck extends forward and slightly up, while the legs are far back. It lands almost vertically, often directly on branches of bushes. Agilely moves among dense branches, often climbing into the thicket. Unlike the coots close to them, moorhen are less closely associated with water and spend most of their time on land, among coastal thickets. It moves quickly and nimble on the ground, leaning forward slightly and, as it were, on bent legs. A bird can also sometimes be seen standing still at the very edge of the water. Despite the absence of characteristic waterfowl membranes, moorhen swims very well: slowly glides among duckweed or other aquatic plants, often changes direction and sometimes turns sharply in place. On the water, he constantly twitches his head and a relatively long raised tail, which is also a characteristic feature of other species of the genus moorhen, as well as coots. Diving reluctantly, mainly in case of danger, it is kept under water, clinging to the bottom plants with its paws. In search of food, he often plunges his head under water.


In Europe, they nest almost everywhere, with the exception of the highlands of the Alps, the Scandinavian Peninsula north of 66 ° north latitude and northern Russia. In the Russian Federation, the northern boundary of the range passes along approximately 60 ° north latitude - through the Karelian Isthmus, Novgorod, Vologda Oblasts north of the Rybinsk Reservoir, Tatarstan, Bashkortostan, Omsk Oblast, and Altai Krai. The bird is also found in the Far East in the Primorsky Territory, as well as in Sakhalin and the southern Kuril Islands. In Asia, poultry is also common in India and in the southeast up to the Philippines, however, it is absent in the steppe and arid regions of Central and Central Asia, as well as in Western Siberia. In Africa, birds can be found only in the south of the continent, Madagascar and in the west in the region of Congo and Algeria. In North America, birds nest in the south and east of the United States (California, Arizona, New Mexico and the states east of Texas, Kansas, Nebraska and Minnesota), as well as in Mexico. Moorhen is also widespread in Central America, the skeleton of the Caribbean and in South America from Brazil to Argentina and Peru.


Habitats are associated with natural or artificial freshwater (rarely brackish) water bodies with coasts overgrown with reeds, reeds, sedge, or other aquatic or near-water plants. The pond can be either large in size or small, and the water in it is both running and standing. Preference is given to wetlands with duckweed on the water and thickets of shrubs (such as willows) on land. As a rule, it behaves secretly - during the day it keeps in coastal thickets, and only at dusk it floats out into open water. In Europe, as a rule, it prefers lowland landscapes - for example, in Germany it is not found above 600 m, and in Switzerland above 800 m above sea level. However, in general, the upper threshold of habitat varies greatly depending on the region - for example, in the Caucasus, birds are found at an altitude of up to 1800 m, and in Nepal up to 4575 m above sea level.


In the greater part of the range, moorhenes are sedentary, and only in the north are they partially or completely migratory. In some cases, the nature of the seasonal movements of these birds is not well understood. It is known that in Europe the tendency to migrate increases from the south-west to the northeast: in the countries of the former USSR and Finland, almost all birds migrate, in Scandinavia, Poland and northern Germany, a small percentage remains to winter, and in Western Europe birds live settled. Migratory birds of Northern Europe in winter move west or southwest, reaching the British Isles, Iberian Peninsula, Italy, the Balkans and North Africa. In populations of Central and Eastern Europe, migration occurs from north to south or from northwest to southeast. Birds of Western Siberia most likely move to the coast of the Caspian Sea, the south of Central Asia, to Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and the countries of the Middle East. In Eastern Siberia and the Far East, birds in the winter may migrate to China and Southeast Asia. Separate foci of wintering moorhen were found in sub-Saharan Africa, Senegal, Gambia, Mali, northern Nigeria and Sudan, southern Chad, but the nesting sites of these birds have not been studied.

In America, moorhen migrate north of the Gulf of Mexico and Florida.

In the case of migration, they arrive at the nesting sites when the water is completely freed from ice - in April or early May. Autumn departure begins in early August. During the spring flight, the birds in the vast majority stay in pairs (very rarely fly alone), fly at high altitude and at night. Autumn migration occurs at lower altitudes, in the beginning in pairs or singly, and in the end in small flocks of up to 10 birds.

Social behavior

Moorhen avoids the community of other birds, including the same species. Only during winter migration can they temporarily accumulate in one place up to 20 (rarely up to 50) pairs, but even in this case they keep a distance of 1–5 m between them. The rest of the time they are met in pairs or alone, carefully guard the feed and nest territory. If an alien appears on the border of the territory, they emit characteristic sharp monosyllabic shouts of “kirk” or quiet “cyc-cyc”, and also are sent towards the guest. If a conflict arises between neighboring pairs or with other birds, the moorhen take a threatening form, and in the case of ongoing aggression, they enter into a fight. The bird tilts its head low towards the enemy, raises the back of the body and spreads its tail, and when the conflict occurs on the water, it can also bend down completely and swiftly swim towards the enemy.


In Europe, the most dangerous predators for moorhen are common buzzards, black and gray crows, magpies, gray herons, marsh moons, eagle owls, American minks, foxes. In addition, in some regions of the world, rats, cats, dogs and mongooses can be limiting factors for birds.

Moorhen Hunt

Moorhen are an object of sporting and amateur hunting, belong to swamp-meadow game, in Russia hunting for them opens only in the summer-autumn period (August-November). Due to their secretive lifestyle and their relatively low numbers, like other cowherd birds, they most often shoot along the way, usually when hunting ducks. The most effective hunting for moorhen from a skradok during morning and evening flights, the preferred number of the shot used is No. 7. In accordance with Article 333.3 of the Tax Code of the Russian Federation, moorhen is mined on the basis of registered single licenses, the collection rate is 20 rubles per animal.