Hawaiian Moorhen

Gallinula galeata




Rails, Gallinules and Coots (Rallidae)

Code 4


Code 6



Egg Color:

Buff with red brown or olive spots.

Number of Eggs:

5 - 6

Incubation Days:

19 - 22

Egg Incubator:

Both sexes

Nest Location:

Anchored to vegetation in open water.

Nest Material:

Dead vegetation lined with grass and leaves.





Hawaiian Moorhen: This mid-to-large sized secretive bird is a sub-species of the Common Gallinule. It has dark gray plumage with black coloring across the head, neck and upper breast. White feathers sparsely occur along flanks and along the undertail coverts that form an inverted V. There is a prominent red frontal shield across the face and forehead. The bill has a red base and yellow tip. Legs and feet are green-yellow. Sexes are similar. Juveniles are browner in their coloring and have a smaller, less colorful front shield.

Breeding and Nesting

Hawaiian Moorhen: These birds nest year-round, but the active season is usually from March through August. It is believed that the timing of nesting is related to water levels and vegetation growth. They usually lay an average of five to six eggs, and incubation is about 22 days. They are good swimmers, and chicks can swim shortly after hatching.

Foraging and Feeding

Hawaiian Moorhen: These opportunistic feeders dine on plants and animals, including algae, aquatic insects, mollusks, water plants, grasses and snails. Their feet are very effective, with long spreading toes that enable them to "walk on water" by stepping on floating plants and shifting vegetation on the marshes. They also forage in mudflats, ponds and canals.


Hawaiian Moorhen: Makes loud, hen-like squeaks, clucks, screams and a single, explosive, frog-like "kup."

Similar Species

Hawaiian Moorhen: American Coot is darker, has pale bill, and lacks white line on flanks.

Undertail covertsX
Small feathers that cover the areas where the retrices (tail feathers) attach to the rump.
The upper front part of a bird.
The front part of the head consisting of the bill, eyes, cheeks and chin.
Frontal shieldX
The area where the bill extends onto the forehead of the bird. It is often brightly colored and is meant to grab the attention of other birds.
Parts of a Standing bird X
Head Feathers and Markings X
Parts of a Flying bird X