Common moorhen

Living around smelly brackish marshes is unthinkable, but these birds love their isolated habitat or don’t have a sense of smell

Alexis Lours

The common moorhen, also known as the waterhen or swamp chicken, is a fascinating bird species found in wetland habitats across much of the world. Known for its distinctive appearance and behavior, the common moorhen is a frequent sight in brackish marshes, ponds, lakeshores, and other freshwater and mixed vegetation areas.

These birds are superbly adapted to their aquatic lifestyle, with their sleek bodies, long legs, and partially webbed feet enabling them to navigate through shallow water with ease. Common moorhens are skilled swimmers, propelling themselves with powerful kicks of their legs while using their wings for balance and stability. They are also adept at diving and can spend considerable time underwater in search of food.

Speaking of food, common moorhens are omnivorous and have a varied diet that includes both plant matter and small aquatic animals. They feed on a wide range of vegetation, such as leaves, seeds, and roots, as well as insects, small fish, crustaceans, and mollusks that they glean from the water’s surface or capture with their sharp beaks.

During the breeding season, which typically occurs from spring to summer, common moorhens engage in elaborate courtship rituals. Females play an active role in courtship, displaying to attract males with a series of behaviors that may include vocalizations, wing-flapping, and swimming displays. Once a pair bond is formed, the birds work together to build a nest, usually constructed at the water’s edge among dense vegetation. The nest is a sturdy structure made from twigs, leaves, and other plant material, providing a secure environment for the eggs and chicks.

Female common moorhens typically lay clutches of 8-10 eggs, which are incubated by both parents for around three weeks until they hatch. After hatching, both parents are involved in caring for the chicks, providing them with food and protection until they are old enough to fend for themselves. Interestingly, common moorhens may engage in cooperative breeding, with other members of the group assisting in raising the chicks.

Distribution

Country
Population est.
Status
Year
Comments
Afghanistan
2016
Breeding
Albania
2016
Algeria
2016
Angola
2016
Armenia
2016
Breeding
Austria
2016
Azerbaijan
2016
Bahrain
2016
Bangladesh
2016
Belarus
2016
Belgium
2016
Benin
2016
Bosnia And Herz.
2016
Breeding
Botswana
2016
Brunei
2016
Bulgaria
2016
Burkina Faso
2016
Burundi
2016
Cambodia
2016
Cameroon
2016
Cape Verde
2016
Central Af. Rep.
2016
Chad
2016
China
2016
Comoros
2016
Congo-Brazzaville
2016
Croatia
2016
Cyprus
2016
Czechia
2016
Côte D’ivoire
2016
DR Congo (Kinshasa)
2016
Denmark
2016
Djibouti
2016
Egypt
2016
Equatorial Guinea
0
Official estimate
EX
2016
Extinct locally
Eritrea
2016
Estonia
2016
Eswatini
2016
Ethiopia
2016
Faroe Islands
2016
Vagrant
Finland
2016
France
2016
Gambia
2016
Georgia
2016
Breeding
Germany
2016
Ghana
2016
Gibraltar
2016
Vagrant
Greece
2016
Greenland
2016
Vagrant
Guam
2016
Breeding
Guinea-Bissau
2016
Guinea
2016
Hong Kong
2016
Breeding
Hungary
2016
Iceland
2016
Vagrant
India
2016
Indonesia
2016
Iran
2016
Iraq
2016
Ireland
2016
Israel
2016
Breeding
Italy
2016
Japan
2016
Jordan
2016
Kazakhstan
2016
Breeding
Kenya
2016
Korea
2016
Kuwait
2016
Kyrgyzstan
2016
Breeding
Laos
2016
Latvia
2016
Lebanon
2016
Lesotho
2016
Liberia
2016
Libya
2016
Liechtenstein
2016
Lithuania
2016
Breeding
Luxembourg
2016
Macao
2016
Seasonality Uncertain
Madagascar
2016
Malawi
2016
Malaysia
2016
Maldives
2016
Breeding
Mali
2016
Malta
2016
Mauritania
2016
Mauritius
2016
Mayotte
2016
Micronesia
2016
Breeding
Moldova
2016
Mongolia
2016
Breeding
Montenegro
2016
Morocco
2016
Mozambique
2016
Myanmar
2016
Namibia
2016
Nepal
2016
Netherlands
2016
Niger
2016
Nigeria
2016
Nort. Mariana Is.
2016
Breeding
North Korea
2016
Breeding
North Macedonia
2016
Norway
2016
Breeding
Oman
2016
Pakistan
2016
Palau
2016
Breeding
Philippines
2016
Poland
2016
Portugal
2016
Qatar
2016
Romania
2016
Russia
2016
Breeding
Rwanda
2016
Réunion
2016
Saint Helena
2016
Breeding
Saudi Arabia
2016
Senegal
2016
Serbia
2016
Seychelles
2016
Sierra Leone
2016
Singapore
2016
Slovakia
2016
Slovenia
2016
Somalia
2016
South Africa
2016
Spain
2016
Sri Lanka
2016
Sudan
2016
Non-Breeding
Svalbard
2016
Vagrant
Sweden
2016
Switzerland
2016
Syria
2016
São Tomé & Príncipe
2016
Taiwan
2016
Tajikistan
2016
Breeding
Tanzania
2016
Thailand
2016
Togo
2016
Tunisia
2016
Turkey
2016
Turkmenistan
2016
Breeding
UAE
2016
Uganda
2016
Ukraine
2016
United Kingdom
2016
Uzbekistan
2016
Breeding
Vietnam
2016
Yemen
2016
Zambia
2016
Zimbabwe
2016

Anything we've missed?

Help us improve this page by suggesting edits. Glory never dies!

Suggest an edit

Get to know me

Terrestrial / Aquatic

Altricial / Precocial

Polygamous / Monogamous

Dimorphic (size) / Monomorphic

Active: Diurnal / Nocturnal

Social behavior: Solitary / Pack / Herd

Diet: Carnivore / Herbivore / Omnivore / Piscivorous / Insectivore

Migratory: Yes / No

Domesticated: Yes / No

Dangerous: Yes / No