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15 Amaze-wing Facts About The Dusky Moorhen for Kids

Dusky moorhen facts are interesting to read

The dusky moorhen (Gallinula tenebrosa) is a type of bird belonging to Australia, New Guinea, and Indonesia. In Australia, these birds were most commonly found in eastern and south-western Australia. Recently, newer populations have also popped up in north-western Australia and the east of South Australia.

The adult dusky moorhen is a medium-sized bird, measuring between 13.7-15.7 in (35-40 cm). The subspecies in New Guinea are smaller in size than the Australian subspecies. The dusky moorhen has a grayish-black plumage. However, its brightly colored frontal shield and bill with yellow tip make it stand out. In contrast to its dark plumage, it has a white undertail and orange-yellow legs. Young birds of this species are not as bright and lack both the yellow tip of the bill and orange-yellow legs. Dusky moorhens are most commonly found in wetland habitats, and they can also occupy man-made aquatic habitats. They have an omnivorous diet and feed on fruits and seeds along with insects, mollusks, amphibians, and so on.

To learn more about the dusky moorhen, keep reading! You can also read about the Eurasian moorhen and the common moorhen.

Dusky Moorhen Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a dusky moorhen?

The dusky moorhen (Gallinula tenebrosa) is a species of moorhen. It is easy to spot a dusky moorhen as it has grayish-black plumage and a white undertail, with a bright orange-red bill that has a yellow tip. However, young birds are duller and browner with a black bill.

What class of animal does a dusky moorhen belong to?

Dusky moorhens belong to the class Aves. Even though the dusky moorhen is a waterbird, it is not a duck or a swan. They are a part of the Rallidae family, which consists of other species of moorhens, coots, and crakes.

How many dusky moorhens are there in the world?

The exact world population of the dusky moorhen has not been recorded. Fortunately, these birds seem to be very common in their natural range. Additionally, the Australian population of these birds is expanding. New populations have been observed in north-western Australia, western Queensland, and the east of South Australia.

Where does a dusky moorhen live?

The dusky moorhen is found in Australia, Indonesia, and New Guinea. Three subspecies of these birds are recorded in these three regions of the world throughout the year, as this species is sedentary in nature and does not migrate.

What is a dusky moorhen's habitat?

Dusky moorhens are found in wetland habitats. This habitat is characterized by freshwater, or more rarely by saline or brackish water. They are found near swamps, rivers, creeks, and lagoons. Any artificial wetland habitat like lakes and ponds in gardens and parks is also suitable for the dusky moorhen bird. They are usually known to prefer waterbodies with grass or reeds on the side, and proper aquatic vegetation.

Who does the dusky moorhen live with?

Dusky moorhens are known to live in pairs or small groups. Each such group can usually contain up to seven members.

How long does a dusky moorhen live?

The lifespan of a dusky moorhen is usually between one and three years in the wild.

How do they reproduce?

The breeding season of these birds varies depending on the geographic region. During the breeding season, dusky moorhens form small groups and members of these groups mate with each other. Following successful mating, the female lays 5-18 eggs in a nest made up of reeds, leaves, waterweeds, and so on. The eggs are creamy white in color, with reddish-brown blotches. After 19-24 days of incubation in the nest, the young offspring hatch out.

What is their conservation status?

The conservation status of the dusky moorhen has been marked as Least Concern by the International Union For Conservation Of Nature (IUCN). These dusky moorhens seem to have a wide range. However, habitat loss and wetland degradation can be threatening to this species.

Dusky Moorhen Fun Facts

What do dusky moorhen look like?

The dusky moorhen is not a very colorful bird but it is quite eye-catching. These birds have a grayish-black plumage with a white undertail. The tail has fully black feathers above and white feathers below. The wings and rump of dusky moorhens have a brownish tone. The frontal shield and bill in these birds appear bright red-orange, like other male and female moorhen species. The orange-red bill has a yellow tip. However, among immature birds of this species, the frontal shield and bill are black in color, with the bill having a yellowish-green tip. Overall, young dusky moorhens are quite dull and browner than fully mature birds. The legs and feet of adult dusky moorhens are orange-yellow, while juveniles have olive green legs.

A young dusky moorhen has dull plumage.

How cute are they?

The dusky moorhen is certainly a cute and attractive bird to look at. The orange-red bill and red-orange frontal shield enhance their appearance.

How do they communicate?

The dusky moorhen mainly communicates through calls and vocalizations. The alarm calls given by these birds sound like harsh shrieks and squawks. They are also known to make 'kurk' sounds, as a form of territorial call. This sound is usually repeated a number of times.

How big is a dusky moorhen ?

The dusky moorhen is a medium-sized bird. Their length is between 13.7-15.7 in (35-40 cm). However, the subspecies of these birds living in New Guinea are slightly smaller than the Australian subspecies and measure between 9.8-12.5 in (25-32 cm). The wingspan of these dusky moorhens is 21.6-25.5 in (55–65 cm). In comparison to another bird of the family Rallidae, known as the corncrake, which measures between 11-12 in (28-30 cm), the dusky moorhen is certainly bigger.

How fast can a dusky moorhen fly?

The exact flight speed of the dusky moorhen has not been ascertained. Nevertheless, these birds have been observed to be poor fliers, with labored wing beats and a slow and weak flight. In general, moorhens are capable of flying but tend to not be good at it.

How much does a dusky moorhen weigh?

The weight of the dusky moorhen is between 0.7-1.5 lb (336–720 g). This species is heavier than the Eurasian moorhen species, which usually has a maximum weight of 1 lb (493 g).

What are the male and female names of the species?

Male and female birds of this species are known as male dusky moorhens and female dusky moorhens, respectively.

What would you call a baby dusky moorhen?

A baby dusky moorhen is known as a chick.

What do they eat?

The diet of a dusky moorhen is omnivorous in nature. They feed on algae, seeds, bread, and fruits of various plants. As well as this, they also eat worms, insects, arachnids, small amphibians, mollusks, and fish. Interestingly, dusky moorhens are known to eat duck and gull dropping and also the decaying flesh of dead animals. These birds mainly forage in open water, but can also look for food on terrestrial grounds with low vegetation.

Are they poisonous?

No, the dusky moorhen is not poisonous to humans or other animals.

Would they make a good pet?

Dusky moorhens are described as being shy and cautious birds. Hence, they may not be the ideal pet bird species.

Did you know...

The dusky moorhen is often confused with the Eurasian coot, due to a similar distribution and both being medium-sized birds. However, it is quite easy to differentiate between the two species. The Eurasian coot has a white bill and white frontal shield, unlike the bright orange-red bill and facial shield of the dusky moorhen. Additionally, the legs and feet of the Eurasian coot are gray, while the dusky moorhen has orange-yellow legs and feet.

Are dusky moorhens aggressive? 

Dusky moorhens are generally not considered to be aggressive, but they get very territorial during the nesting and breeding season. For example, during the breeding season, dusky moorhens form breeding groups. These breeding groups, which usually contain two to seven birds, vigorously defend their territories against birds of other groups. During such times, the orange-red bill and facial shield are displayed by each of the birds as a status symbol.

Is the dusky moorhen native to Australia? 

The dusky moorhen (Gallinula tenebrosa) is not native or endemic to Australia, as they are found in New Guinea and Indonesia as well. There are three subspecies of the dusky moorhen, found in these three locations. The range of the Gallinula tenebrosa frontata subspecies comprises Sulawesi and the Sula Islands in Indonesia, along with the southern parts of the Moluccas and the Lesser Sundas to the western and south-eastern regions of New Guinea. Gallinula tenebrosa neumanni is found in the northern parts of New Guinea. Lastly, the subspecies Gallinula tenebrosa tenebrosa is found in eastern and south-western Australia and Tasmania.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! For more relatable content, check out these orange winged amazon facts and the black-browed albatross facts for kids.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable cute cartoon bird coloring pages.

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