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The common moorhen

17 November 2015

 

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The common moorhen was first described scientifically by Linnaeus in 1758 as Gallinula chloropus based on a specimen that was collected in England, and this scientific name is still valid. The name chloropus is Latin for green foot which is somewhat of a misnomer because the legs and feet are yellow while the upper parts of the lower portions of the legs are orange to orange-red. To confuse matters further, the legs of an adult, smaller, lesser moorhen Gallinula angulata are greenish. Juvenile, common moorhens are dark brown above, the bill and frontal shield are greenish-brown, the eyes are grey-brown and the legs and feet are olive-grey to greenish. It therefore appears that the specimen on which the original description was based was an immature bird, hence the reference to green feet in its scientific name.

The common moorhen is some 30 to 38 cm tall and weighs 175 to 375 g. The sexes are alike in plumage colouration, but the male is slightly larger than the female. The adults are overall... (Become a subscriber for more)

 

Reference:

Hockey, P A R, W R J Dean and P G Ryan (Eds) 2005. Roberts – Birds of southern Africa, seventh edition. Cape Town: Trustees of the John Voelcker Bird Book Fund, pp 334 - 335.

 

article by Prof J du P Bothma

 

 

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