Swamp Chicken

Worldwide Distribution — now playing at your neighborhood marsh

This Common gallinule was feeding from the mash alongside Blackpoint Wildlife Drive.

The family Rallidae (aka rails) includes crakes, coots, and this member of the gallinules. Found worldwide, this species, Gallinula galeata, was recognized in 2011 as separate from the closely related “Old World” Moorhens.

Here it is in a favored habitat, feeding on underwater vegetation of the Florida marsh in sight of rockets launching from Kennedy Space Center. The exceptional lighting, bright reflective water, are created by the low winter sun and southern exposure of the location just north of the road.

The taxonomic Order is derived from the Latin word Gallinula meaning a small hen or chicken that, since the 13th century at least, as revealed in the names “Moorhen,” “Waterhen,” and “Swamp Chicken.”

The spread of Gallinula is attributed to breeding habits. “Laying starts in spring, between mid-March and mid-May in Northern hemisphere temperate regions. About 8 eggs are usually laid per female early in the season; a brood later in the year usually has only 5–8 or fewer eggs. Nests may be re-used by different females. Incubation lasts about three weeks. Both parents incubate and feed the young. These fledge after 40–50 days, become independent usually a few weeks thereafter, and may raise their first brood the next spring. When threatened, the young may cling to the parents’ body, after which the adult birds fly away to safety, carrying their offspring with them.”

The text in quotes is from the Wikipedia article for “Common Moorhen.”

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved