Gallinula Galeata – Common Gallinule

Gallinula Galeata - Common Gallinule found in the US

The common gallinule, Gallinula galeata is a species of bird belonging to the Rallidae family. The American Ornithologists’ Union separated it from the common moorhen in July 2011. It is found in the Americas near densely vegetated marshes, ponds, canals, and other wetlands. The species is absent from the polar regions and a large number of tropical rainforests. Elsewhere, the common gallinule is likely the most frequently encountered rail species throughout much of North America, with the exception of those locations where the American coot is prevalent.

Quick Overview: Gallinula Galeata – Common Gallinule
Body size: Around 13-15 in (33-38 cm) and a weight of 340 g (12 oz)
Main colors: Gray, White, Red, Yellow, Brown
Range: Eastern and Southern part of the United States
Migratory Bird: Yes
Best time of the year to see in the U.S.: All Year (January – December)
Conservation Status: Least Concern

Common Gallinule Description

The majority of Common Gallinules are charcoal gray in color with a white stripe down their flanks and brown with white outer tail feathers. Adults are distinguished by a brilliant red shield on their forehead and a red bill with a yellow tip. Adult birds resemble immature birds but lack the red shield and bill.

Gallinula Galeata - Common Gallinule found in the US
Gallinula Galeata – Common Gallinule. Photo by: c w

Size

These birds have a length of 13-15 in (33-38 cm) and a weight of 340 g (12 oz). Their wings could range from 20-23 in (51-58 cm).

Feeding

Omnivorous. The leaves, stems, and seeds of many water plants, as well as the fruits and berries of terrestrial plants, are major food items. Additionally, it feeds on insects, spiders, earthworms, snails, and other mollusks, as well as tadpoles. Occasionally consumes carrion and the eggs of other birds.

Habitat

Closely associated with marshes, ponds, canals, ditches, and rice fields where pools of submerged or floating vegetation are interspersed with emergent or shoreline vegetation, this species forages on the water’s surface, among submerged plants, and along the shoreline and upland for plant materials and macroinvertebrates.

Behavior

Numerous calls are almost certainly related to territorial behavior. Moorhens have a single dominating nighttime flying call, as well as three more cries that are made less frequently in flight and also from the ground. The most frequently encountered is a rush of harsh kek notes, frequently in groups of three or four.

Gallinula Galeata Scientific Classification

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Subphylum: Chelicerata
  • Class: Aves
  • Order: Gruiformes
  • Family: Rallidae
  • Genus: Gallinula
  • Species: Gallinula galeata

Best time of the year to see

In the United States, the best time of year to see these birds is all year round, regardless of the season. This refers to any month of the year between January and December.

Distribution of the Common Gallinule in the USA

Breeds throughout much of central and southern North America, as well as Central and northern South America. Winters in the southern Atlantic states and southern South America.

The Common Gallinule can be found in the following states in the United States – Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

Gallinula Galeata – Common Gallinule

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