Common Moorhen - Gallinula chloropus
It has gray-black feathers and a red bill with a yellow tip. It has white stripes on its sides and long chicken-like toes that help it walk on the top of floating vegetation and the mud. Males and females are similar, but males are a little larger.
In the western United States, the common moorhen breeds in California, New Mexico, Nevada, and Arizona. In the eastern United States and Canada, it breeds from Minnesota to New Brunswick and south to the Gulf Coast and Florida. In the United States, the moorhen winters in California and Arizona, along the Gulf Coast and on the east coast from Virginia to Florida. It is also found in South America, Europe, and parts of Asia and Africa.
The common moorhen is omnivorous and feeds while walking on plants or while floating on the water. It swims across the water and scoops up floating seeds and other materials from plants floating on the surface of the water. It also dives to gather the seeds, leaves, and roots of aquatic plants. On land, it walks with a high-stepping gait and pecks at the ground like a chicken. It also eats algae, small fish, tadpoles, insects, berries, grass, snails, and worms.
The male moorhen courts the female by bringing her water weeds and fanning out his tail. The male and the female form a monogamous pair. The pair builds several nests in their territory. The nest is bowl-shaped and made of twigs, cattail and bulrush stems, and grass and sedges. It is lined with leaves and other plants. The nest is built within a few feet of the water and sometimes it is even built on floating plants in the water. The moorhen may pull down plants growing around the nest to provide a protective cover for the nest. Because they are so close to the water, moorhen nests are often lost to flooding.
When the common moorhen swims, it bobs its head back and forth. It is a better swimmer and walker than flier, although in some parts of its range it does migrate long distances!
Audio Credit: xeno-canto.org Stuart Fisher