Friday, November 16, 2012

Marsh chicken...

or otherwise known as the Common Moorhen. In terms of visibility, these red-beaked freshwater marsh birds fall somewhere between the very elusive clapper rail and the social American coot often seen in large rafts moving casually around marshy lakes. Like the coot, the vegetarian moorhen forages in the water and frequently makes head dives in search of food. Unlike the duck, their feet are not webbed and they fall into Sibley's search category of "chicken-like-Marsh". It is the adult's brilliant red beak and facial shield that make this bird not so common.

During my weekend into the Everglades marshes several weeks ago, I came up on a family of moorhens, 2 adults, 2 juveniles. They were busy foraging in a small area of the fast running stream that cuts through the marsh grasses. Quite windy that day, I managed to stake out with some effort and stay in one spot for a very long time to observe the active family. I was happy to find them on the second day and in good light.  These are shy birds, but they allowed my boat to come within 6-10 feet of them. Common little birds they are, but in beautifully reflected water they make very nice subjects.