Moorhen - Gallinula chloropus


The Moorhen is a medium-sized, ground-dwelling bird, usually found near water, and closely related to the Coot. From a distance it looks black with a ragged white line along its body. Up close it is olive-brown on the back and the head and underneath are blue-grey. It has a red bill with a yellow tip. It breeds in the UK in lowland areas, especially in central and eastern England. It is scarce in northern Scotland and the uplands of Wales and northern England. UK breeding birds are residents and seldom travel far.

Identification difficulty

There's a chance of seeing a moorhen anywhere where there is water - from a small ditch or a lake in a city centre park, to a big lake or reservoir.

When to see it

All year round

Life History

The nest is a basket built on the ground in dense vegetation or in low hanging branches over water. Both parents incubate and feed the young. They forage beside or in the water, sometimes upending in the water to feed and consume a wide variety of vegetable material and small aquatic creatures.

UK Status

Widespread and common in Britain

VC55 Status

Common as a breeding bird in Leicestershire and Rutland.

be our species champion

Leicestershire & Rutland Map


Yellow squares = NBN records (all known data)
Coloured circles = NatureSpot records: 2020+ | 2015-2019 | pre-2015

UK Map