Common Moorhen, The Marsh Hen, Not So Common Camera Critters #39

by Larry Jordan on January 3, 2009

Common Moorhen photo by Larry Jordan

The Common Moorhen is a medium sized bird that is the most widely distributed member of the Rail family.  Even though they have a wide range around the world the Common Moorhen is listed as threatened or a species of special concern in some areas due to loss of wetland habitat.

I visited one of our great local birding spots yesterday, where I found this Common Moorhen hanging out in a group of Canada Geese, in a small side finger of a huge pond.  They like freshwater marshes and reedy ponds but can usually be seen along the pond edges, where they sometimes walk on top of floating vegetation, showing their olive-yellow legs, looking for seeds and snails.

Common Moorhens will pump there heads while they swim, similar to the American Coot.  However, they are easily differentiated by their yellow-tipped red, chicken-like bill and the white band on their flanks.

All in all, I had a nice time at Lema Ranch.  Spotting the Common Moorhen was an added bonus after seeing my Ferugenous Hawk on the way to town.  Other birds seen at Lema Ranch were the Red-shouldered Hawk, Canada Goose, Great Egret, American Coot, Mallard, Ring-billed Gull, Ring-necked Duck, Lesser Scaup, Pied-billed Grebe, Western Bluebird, Song Sparrow, Lark Sparrow and the Spotted Towhee.

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{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

sandy January 3, 2009 at 11:02 am

I could look at these all day and often do .. marsh hen special sandy

sandys last blog post..It’s the weekend – Time to ride


Teena in Toronto January 3, 2009 at 11:09 am

I’ve never heard of a moorhen.

I played too 🙂

Teena in Torontos last blog post..Knitted socks


Reader Wil January 3, 2009 at 11:30 am

Excellent photos! Thanks for sharing this informative post!

Reader Wils last blog post..The Australian Mudskipper


ramblingwoods January 3, 2009 at 2:45 pm

I have never seen one before..thank you


kayleen January 3, 2009 at 3:27 pm

beautiful photos. have only seen one of these guys once…thanks for sharing

kayleens last blog post..Camera Critters—Cedar Waxwings


Amanda January 3, 2009 at 4:45 pm

lovely shot

Amandas last blog post..PhotoHunt: Hope


Mimi January 3, 2009 at 5:02 pm

I’ve never seen one of those, thanks for sharing,.

Here’s hoping 2009 is your best year ever!

Mimis last blog post..


karen January 3, 2009 at 6:54 pm

Ahhhh … so that is what those birds are called. I’ve seen a couple of them down at the small lake, near where I live.

Great shots, BTW.

karens last blog post..Camera Critters … A Dog’s Life……


Larry January 3, 2009 at 6:54 pm

@Sandy, marsh hen expert, what’s with the monkey?

@Teena your kids are so cute and thanks for the sock pattern, my wife loves you for it!

@Wil thanks for the comment. Love your mudskipper!

@Rambling you are welcome. Thank you for sharing your yard critters too!

@Kayleen thank you for leaving a comment and thanks a bunch for your super captures of the Cedar Waxwings


Grammy January 3, 2009 at 7:51 pm

Great photos. I have never seen one of them before. I love the touch of red on the beak.

Grammys last blog post..Camera critters #5


SAPhotographs(joan) January 3, 2009 at 8:04 pm

Great shot Larry. I love the reflection. So many species are becoming extinct because of habitat loss. What a pity!!

SAPhotographs(joan)s last blog post..Close-up of the Common Cockroach


Anna January 3, 2009 at 9:26 pm

I really enjoyed this. I especially liked the 2nd picture with the reflection in the water.

Annas last blog post..Camera Critters (#39)


Thomas January 4, 2009 at 5:00 am

The Moorehens in your part of the world are have a different shade of blue. The ones found in India have a bright blue tone. Beautiful image nevertheless

Thomass last blog post..Three minutes of ecstasy – Indian Tiger


June January 4, 2009 at 5:36 am

I think they’re doing OK here in south Florida…see them and hear them all the time. They make me smile…along with the coots.


Misty Dawn January 4, 2009 at 2:24 pm

That beak is REALLY COOL! These are fantastic photos, and I would love to see one of these birds in person. I learned a lot of new information from this post – thank you for that!

Misty Dawns last blog post..Camera-Critters #39


Lisa's Chaos January 11, 2009 at 6:42 pm

I’ve never seen a Moorhen either – I love that you show me tons of birds I have never seen or knew existed. 🙂

Lisa’s Chaoss last blog post..The missing rib


The Zen Birdfeeder January 20, 2009 at 6:29 pm

When I visited Hawai’i, I saw a Common Moorhen for the first time. They are considered threatened there but does sound quite common elsewhere. We don’t see them here so they’re rare to me!

The Zen Birdfeeders last blog post..Dakota’s Top Five Meme (Finally!)


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