The common moorhen

Writer: Isaac Cohen  |  Editor: Ye Shangqing  |  From: Shenzhen Daily

A great egret is seen with its prey in Honghu Park, Luohu District.

Best known as the water hen, the common moorhen (Gallinula chloropus) is a beautiful medium-sized blackish bird. Their striking bright red bill with a yellow tip and red facial shield give them a unique and fascinating look. The bird is about 35 centimeters in length, with a wingspan of about 60cm. Their body is chubby, mostly black, with some gray and white feathers on the wings and tail; their legs are a tone between green and yellow.


Water hens are mostly seen on the shores of ponds and marshes, basically in every Shenzhen park that has a lake, but also across the shores of the city’s rivers. Their flight is low and slow, and their legs move very fast, especially when they have to escape from predators. These birds are also good swimmers.


The common moorhen reproduces at least twice a year and each time lays a clutch of up to eight eggs, sometimes even more, with records of up to 15. An interesting fact about the water hens’ reproduction is that they sometimes act as parasites by laying their eggs in other birds’ nests to be incubated by surrogate parents.


The water hen is not an endangered species and is widespread in our city. Let’s keep doing our part for the preservation of our local fauna so our future generations can also enjoy the beauty of this and other species in the natural environment.