Galinha d'água © Diogo Oliveira

Common Moorhen

Gallinula chloropus

It is an aquatic species of the family Rallidae, observable throughout the year in the Garden. It is a cosmopolitan bird, associated with diverse wetlands of still water (standing water) such as dams, ponds, marshes, ditches, riverbanks and ornamental lakes in urban centers.

The scientific name is especially curious: Gallinula is the Latin term for “chicken” and Conrad Gesner used it in his Historia Animalium (1555) to refer to this species; chloropus alludes to the color of the bird’s legs and results from the contraction of two Greek words: kloros, which is green or yellow and pous the foot.

The Common Moorhen is a easily recognizable bird thanks to its black plumage, white undertail feathers and red beak with yellow tip in adults. The long fingers are adapted for locomotion in the water.

Text: João E. Rabaça