A member of the Rail family, the Common Moorhen is distinguished by its colorful bill and bobbing head while on the move. Its body is slate gray with a white stripe on the side and white undertail coverts. The Moorhen has four long toes to ease it through the mud and vegetation of the marsh, but it is also like the coot, swimming in open water.
The young are minus the red bill.
Population and distribution.
The Moorhen winters in California and along the Gulf Coast, as well as the East Coast from Virginia southward.
This bird builds several nests. After the chicks hatch, the rest are used for roosting. She lays 7-14 buff colored eggs, spotted brown, in a shallow platform made of rushes, reeds and cattails just above the waterline.
Widespread, the Common Moorhen breeds in ponds and freshwater marshes from the Midwest eastward to the Coast.