Birds of Seabrook Island

COAST BIRDS
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ANECDOTES

  Moorhen
 
 

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  Order Gruiformes - Crakes, Rails and Allies
   Family Rallidae - Rails, Gallinules, Coots

  Gruiforms include a diverse assemblage found in most areas of the world. They are aquatic or terrestrial with the anterior toes free or incompletely webbed.
Rails are primarily water birds with a compressed body, long toes, and short, rounded wings. They are secretive and are best located by their song. Many feed at night, foraging while walking in damp marshes or swimming in shallow water.
Duck-like Rails - Gallinules. The larger rails, the gallinules or moorhens, are duck-like and are often seen on lily-pads or swimming in open fresh water patches.
 
Other large rails - A visit to New Zealand
 
     
  Common Gallinule, Gallinula galeata
 
    Cornell     USGS     Wiki     ToL     EoL
        YEAR ROUND - Common, breeds / Common, breeds?
            FRESHWATER MARSHES (tall, emergent vegetation)
MORE PICTURES
 
   The Common Gallinule is a dark, dumpy bird with white under tail coverts and a white stripe on the flank. Adults have a red bill, extending up the forehead as a red shield. The tip of the beak is yellow. The tail is short. Gallinules are usually solitary and walk or swim while feeding. They are also vocal.
   Most of our field guides list this species as the Common Moorhen, G. chloropus.This European species is now regarded as distinct from our representative so the name has been restored to the older name found in earlier field guides.
Common Moorhen
      Common Gallinule, Rice lake. Middleton Place
   
  RANGE: Moorhens are widely distributed in the world - they are missing only in the Australoasian region. They are also widely distributed in the eastern US. They winter along the lower coasts and Gulf, south to central South America. Look (and listen) for them in marshes and lakes/ponds with emergent vegetation.
  BREEDING: Monogamous. Two (rarely 3) broods. Both parents construct the nest, usually over water but sometimes on the ground. It has ramps leading to the water. It may have a canopy. They build a platform or  rimmed cup of aquatic plants lined with grass. Similar platforms may be build nearby for roosting and brooding.
   Females lay 8-11 (2-13) eggs which both parents incubate for 19-22 days. Eggs hatch asynchronously. Young are subprecocial. Chicks can swim shortly after hatching. They have a wing spur that aids in climbing. Both parents tend the young. Moorhens are cooperative breeders with the young of the first brood often helping with subsequent broods and defending territory. Young can fly after 40-50 days.
   Adults may build extra nests and brooding platforms used for resting and care of the young. They may also engage in brood parasitism.
  DIET: Moorhens feed on aquatic vegetation and some mollusks, worms, berries, and fruit. They sometimes eat carrion and eggs of other birds. They forage while swimming, walking on land, or climbing through marsh vegetation. When swimming they may upend and sometimes dive.
  VOICE: They often announce their presence with a series of clucks ending with long whinnying notes. They have a variety of short notes.
  NOTES;
   Checklists -
      Seabrook. Kiawah - common year-round (breeds).
      Coastal - common permanent resident. Hilton Head - common permanent resident. Cape Romain - common year-round, breeds.
         Huntington Beach
- common April - October; uncommon November - February.
      Caw Caw - uncommon year-round. ACE - common year-round, breeds.
   CBC: ACE 487, 87, 607, 398, 203, 195, 305, 265; Charleston 219, 51, 65, 21, 22, 28, 11, 20;
            St. Helena/Fripp x, x, x, x, x, x, 1, 4; Hilton Head 0 151, 369, 278, 298, 49, 119, 95; Sun City/Okatie 7, 13, 18, 14, 54, 12, 14, 7;
            McClellanville 207, 25, 75, 7, nc, 28, 23, 328; Winyah Bay x, x, 43, 115, 25, 48, 70; Litchfield/Pawley's 24, 44, 20, 69, 35, 78, 103.
   SCBBA: A few nests recorded in all coastal counties, inland to the fall line.
   P&G: Common resident on coastal plain. Egg dates: 9 April - 18 July. Maximum, 14 nests in cattail marsh, Magnolia Gardens, 1987. Winter maximum 119, McClellanville, 23 December 1984.
   Avendex: 5 reports, most in the spring. 500 birds at Huntington Beach State Park, 25 October 1965.
   Potter: Permanent resident on and near the coast.
  ●  Common Gallinules are regular winter birds on the Jenkins Point Marsh and may be seen on Palmetto Lake and around the golf courses. Fairly common. Look for them at Freshfields. They could breed in the cattail marsh on Jenkins Point but that habitat is degrading and other suitable fresh-water habitat may be lacking.
   
   
Other Large Rails - A Visit to New Zealand
   

   The Purple Swamphen, Porphrio porphyrio, is widely distributed in the Old World (Eurasia, Africa, Australia and New Zealand), and has been introduced into Florida. In New Zealand it is known as the "Pukeko," the Maori name for the species. In the fields from Christ Church to the Southern Alps, pukekos and Paradise Shelducks, Tadora variegata (Putangitangi) are abundant foragers. This is a plug for a trip to New Zealand! Take the train across the Southern Alps from Christ Church to Greymouth. At the stop in Arthur's Pass look for a large parrot with scarlet under-wings and rump, the Kea, Nestor notabilis. This playful parrot is sometimes destructive. If you take this trip, note the beech forest (Nothofagus), a remnant of our ancient Gondwanaland heritage in the southern hemisphere.

Southern Alps
Waimakariri River
Southern Alps from Springfield. Canterbury Plain to the mountains - shelducks and swamphens...



Waimakariri River, a braided river at the edge of the Southern Alps




 
    Banner - Common Moorhen - Ashepoo, Bennett's Point Road.
   
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