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Common Gallinule

Gallinula galeata

Formerly called the Common Moorhen, and like its relative the American Coot, the Common Gallinule is actually a member of the rail family (Rallidae), though both species swim and behave quite like a typical waterfowl. In the western USA their range is mostly year-round in wetland areas of California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas and the Gulf coast through Florida and south through Mexico, Central and South America. Since the mid-twentieth century these birds have been expanding their range north through the eastern USA, and now they migrate in summer as far as southern Canada. There are as many as seven subspecies of Common Gallinule recognised by science, including the endangered `Alae `Ula in Hawaii. All members require well vegetated freshwater lakes for their survival.

Most of my meetings with these birds have been in California, as I can enjoy their company within walking distance of my home in southern California. I’ve also met them at the Salton Sea and in Henderson Nevada. While on my spring 2020 expedition in Texas, I found them at Aransas NWR and again on South Padre Island.

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