Common Gallinule


The Common Gallinule is a unique looking bird with it’s long toes (allowing it to walk on vegetation), red facial shield, and their “candy corn” looking beak.


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Common Gallinule


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Common Gallinule


As with other birds, the functionality of the facial shield appears to relate to protection of the Gallinule’s face while feeding in or moving through dense vegetation, as well as courtship display and territorial defense.

According to Hawaiian mythology, the Gallinule brought fire from the volcano gods to the Hawaiian people and its white forehead was scorched in the process.  The Common Gallinule’s Hawaiian name is “Alae Ula” which means β€œburnt forehead.”



36 thoughts on “Common Gallinule

    • It is a Moorhen, or was called so in the U.S. until 2011 when the American Ornithologists’ Union and the International Ornithological Committee decided our New World species should be differentiated from the Old World Common Moorhen. πŸ™‚

  1. I always feel a thrill when I spot a gallinule in the reeds, they’re so unique and beautiful. Both these photos do a great job of highlighting their beauty, Donna

    • We did originally called these Common Moorhens in North America. But in 2011 it was decided by the American Ornithologists’ Union and the International Ornithological Committee to rename them as a New World species to separate it from the Old World species. These are also a different species from the American Coot.

  2. Hello Donna! What a beautiful series. We have both “common moorhens” and “coots” here as well, but it’s a joy to see our American cousins across the ocean πŸ™‚

  3. Oh my gosh, I see these birds at our wetlands too! How awesome! I had not yet learned what they were. And we saw their babies too. I’m adding this to my list πŸ™‚ Thank you!

    • Yay, adding to your list calls for a happy dance! πŸ’ƒ One thing to look for in your photos, if it’s missing the white bar on its wing, check for other dissimilarities that are slight, it could be a Purple Gallinule, also seen in Florida. (I’m still searching for that one!) Oh babies, I’ve seen photos, so adorable and oddly cute! 😊

  4. Magnificent photos and nice to learn new things. I have been wondering why coots and moorhen are having that kind of forehead. You explained it well, thank you Donna!

  5. I have this vague memory of catching a glimpse of one of these. Perhaps in NM or AZ? But, I know… it doesn’t count without a picture! πŸ˜‰ Perfect captures as always! ❀

      • Only three times, but never during times when they’re having the major migration. Eric once lived not far from there and had many more opportunities to visit the del Apache. It’s a wonderful refuge.

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