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Dusky Moorhen

Gallinula tenebrosa

Quick facts

Size: Averages 38 cm including short tail, 500-700 g.


Range and lifestyle: Mainly found in the eastern states of Australia, around freshwater lakes, rivers and vegetated wetlands.


Food: Aquatic plant matter from the surface or obtained underwater by up-ending the body.

Breeding: The nest is a bulky bowl of sticks built in reeds or tall grass, just above water level. In groups with more than one female, all may lay eggs in the same nest, up to 6 eggs each.

  • ​​​Largely sedentary and during the breeding season they form territories of 2-7 adults but can form larger aggregations at other times. All members of the group may incubate.

  • Breeding occurs throughout the year, except in winter.

  • After hatching the chicks are fed in the nest for 3-4 days, then up to three adults and sometimes older siblings care for them until they can feed independently at 3-4 weeks of age.

  • They spend a lot of time foraging along the edges of wetlands out of the water or even away from water in parks.

  • They take flight when frightened or squabbling by running across the water surface and fly strongly with trailing legs and toes.

  • Dusky Moorhens flick their tails and jerk their heads repeatedly while swimming.


Text © Learn About Birds 2022 CC BY-NC-SA

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