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Help with Gallinule/Moorhen ID

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A few points to remember when separating Gallinules and Moorhens;

  • Adults with mostly yellow lower mandibles might safely be identified as Eurasian Moorhen.
  • Adults (bright red bills) with limited yellow on the lower mandible are likely American Gallinules.
  • A large and flat-topped shield is an indication of American Gallinule.
  • Birds with bright red eyes are likely Eurasian Moorhen.
  • Seriously, the easiest way to identify a silent or subadult Moorhen or Gallinule might be to find a dropped feather and send it away for DNA testing.

This is just the beginning of an effort to figure out how to identify these birds. There is still lots to be learned and hopefully someday a better understanding of variation in Moorhens and Gallinules will allow them to be identified with some more confidence, and maybe even be able to identify them in juvenal plumage. 

Edited by Bird-Boys
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