Hawaiian Moorhen

Gallinula galeata

Order

GRUIFORMES

Family

Rails, Gallinules and Coots (Rallidae)

Code 4

COGA

Code 6

GALCHL

ITIS

ILLUSTRATION

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PHOTOS

CONSERVATION STATUS

Least Concern

The Hawaiian Moorhen is a mid-to-large sized secretive bird that can be found in freshwater marshes, irrigation ditches, reservoirs and wet pastures. It favors dense emergent vegetation near open water, floating or barely emergent mats of vegetation, water depths of less than 3 feet, and prefers fresh water as opposed to saline or brackish. It feeds on mollusks, insects, water plants and grasses. It is endemic to the Hawaiian Islands, and can only be found on Oahu and Kauai. The Kauai population is found in lowland wetlands and valleys. A sizable population is found at the Hanalei National Wildlife Refuge. The Oahu population is widely spread, but is mostly found between Haleiwa and Waimanalo. These birds nest year-round, but the active season is from March through August. Females lay an average of 5 to 6 eggs, and incubation is about 22 days. This waterbird was listed as an Endangered Species in 1967 under the Federal Endangered Species Act. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is finalizing the Revised Hawaiian Waterbirds Recovery Plan.

IBIRD EXPLORER GENERAL

PHOTO SHARING AND DISCUSSION

BIRD PHOTOGRAPHY

SUMMARY

Overview

Hawaiian Moorhen: This moorhen is a subspecies of the Common Gallinule. This dark gray bird has a black head and neck and white feathers on the flanks and under tail coverts, a very distinctive red frontal shield; bill tip is yellow with a red base, and the legs and feet are greenish, without lobes. It feeds on insects, plants and mollusks. It has a swift strong direct flight. Sexes are similar.

 

Range and Habitat

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Hawaiian Moorhen SONGS AND CALLS

Hawaiian Moorhen D1

Voice is a variety of cackles, squawks, and clucks.

Similar Sounding

Hawaiian Coot 1

Calls consist of sharp repeated "checks" and clucks.


Voice Text

"Kup"

INTERESTING FACTS

  • According to Hawaiian legend, this moorhen brought fire from the volcano home of the gods to the Hawaiian people. During its flight, the bird's formerly white forehead was burned red by the volcano's fire.
  • Despite lacking either webbed or lobed feet, the Hawaiian Moorhen is an excellent swimmer.
  • It is often visually and vocally confused with the American Coot. It is easily distinguished by the red shield-like plate above its bill.
  • This bird is very secretive, usually remaining close to dense vegetation, and hiding quickly when it senses danger.

SIMILAR BIRDS

RANGE MAP HAWAII

About this Hawaii Map

This map shows how this species is distributed across the Hawaiian island.

FAMILY DESCRIPTION

TERMINOLOGY

CREDITS

Artist

Chris Vest

HELP ME IDENTIFY A BIRD

BACKYARD BIRDING

BIRDS AND BIRDING

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Tail covertsX
The short tail feathers covering the base of the long tail feathers.
Parts of a Standing bird X
Head Feathers and Markings X
Parts of a Flying bird X