The Common Moorhen is a
widely spread bird, found on every continent except Australia and
Antarctica. They are often found with their close relative, the American
Coot, but are usually more shy and retiring. They can easily be
differentiated from the somewhat similar American Coot by the brilliant red
forehead shield and the red bill with yellow tip. Common Moorhen are
generally just casual migrants and visitors to South Dakota, but are more common
residents in areas just to the east and south of the state.
Habitat: Prefers freshwater marshes with some open
Diet: Omnivorous, feeding on many
aquatic plants, fruits and berries of terrestrial plants, earthworms, tadpoles,
insects and insect larvae, snails, and occasionally bird eggs.
Behavior: Uses a variety of methods for foraging.
Will swim on the water's surface, dabbling at the surface, dipping its head
below the water, or sometimes by diving beneath the surface. They also
will feed on land, or climb through wetland vegetation in search of food.
Breeding: Generally a non-breeder in South Dakota,
although there are scattered records of confirmed breeding. The nest of a
Common Moorhen is a platform of wetland vegetation such as reeds and cattails,
placed above shallow water in a wetland, or sometimes on the ground near the
shoreline. The female usually lays between 6 and 12 eggs, and both parents
help to incubate them. When the eggs hatch, both parents help to feed
them. The young usually fledge at around 6 or 7 weeks.
Migration: Summers in scattered locations through the eastern third of the U.S., and
locally in the southwestern United States. Southwestern populations and
those in the deep South may not migrate, while most elsewhere winter near the
Cornell University's "All About Birds - Common Moorhen"
Photo Information: December 10th, 2012 - Big Cypress
National Reserve, Florida - Terry Sohl
Additional Photos: Click on the image chips or
text links below for additional, higher-resolution Common Moorhen photos.