THE COMMON GALLINULE

When I started “birding” about 20 years ago at Shollenberger, we called this species the “Common Moorhen”. It was renamed the “Common Gallinule in 2011 by the American Ornithologists’ Union. It is termed the most commonly seen rail species in North America. Until the problems with our freshwater channels started about a decade ago, it was a resident at Shollenberger. It even nested there, upon occasion. When the Ellis Creek trails were opened to the public in 2009 the birds could then be seen there. Their population peaked at around 40-50 in 2011. They remain there today, in much smaller numbers, but one or two pair still nest. They primarily eat vegetation, and their wide feet allow them to climb on top of floating matter, even though they can weigh as much as a pound.

Note “candy-corn” colored bill during nesting season.

An adult feeds a very young bird, which sports clown-like plumage.

An adult, with a prominent red “shield” leads a juvenile on top of reeds.

Senior Docent Bob Dyer, Chapter 1, 10/2016

 

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