A common moorhen (c) Matt Cattell

Common moorhen

Common moorhens are widespread throughout Europe, South America, Africa and India. In Britain they are a fairly common sight near most aquatic environments, and they are excellent swimmers. Unusually, it is the female birds who fight amongst themselves for mating rights to males. Moorhens are incredibly resourceful - scientists recorded an incident where during heavy rain a bird incubating eggs was seen to cover itself with a sheet of polythene like a cape, then remove it once the rain stopped.

Scientific name: Gallinula chloropus

Rank: Species

Common names:

Common waterhen

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Map showing the distribution of the Common moorhen taxa

Species range provided by WWF's Wildfinder.

The Common moorhen can be found in a number of locations including: Africa, Amazon Rainforest, Asia, China, Europe, Indian subcontinent, Madagascar, Mediterranean, North America, Russia, South America, United Kingdom, Wales. Find out more about these places and what else lives there.


The following habitats are found across the Common moorhen distribution range. Find out more about these environments, what it takes to live there and what else inhabits them.

Additional data source: Animal Diversity Web

Conservation Status

Least Concern

  1. EX - Extinct
  2. EW
  3. CR - Threatened
  4. EN - Threatened
  5. VU - Threatened
  6. NT
  7. LC - Least concern

Year assessed: 2009

Classified by: IUCN 3.1