The Rail family of birds includes moorhens, gallinules and coots. All are marsh birds that have a chicken-like appearance but act more like wading birds and ducks. All eat a variety of seeds, and mostly aquatic insects (some land based worms and grubs too).
The Common Moorhen is black for the males and brown for the hens with a red fleshy area over their beak. The Purple Gallinule is a flashy turquoise with purple accents and the red fleshy area over the beak. The Common Coot is black with the white fleshy area over the beak. All behave fairly the same. Please click on the thumbnail image to see the slightly larger version of the picture.
Coots, Common Moorhens, and Purple Gallinules are seen in The Villages, FL on occasion and mostly in the shallow marshes or prairies. I often spot these birds at the Sharon Rose Wiechens Nature Preserve. The Coots are migratory and usually seen in the Winter here and are often on Lake Sumter in large numbers. The Moorhens and Purple Gallinules are year around resident birds with the Moorhens being a lot more commonly seen (pardon the pun).
The Coots are a charcoal black with a white face for both of the sexes. The Purple Gallinules are a vivid blue and purple with a yellow blue and red bill. The Common Gallinule or Moorhen, resembles the coot but has a red face and the females are brown with the red face. The Coots, Common Moorhens and Purple Gallinules all are Rails. These birds have a loud cry when alarmed and also sound a bit like a chicken clucking when in their normal communication mode. Please click on the thumbnail image to see the slightly larger version of the picture.
Male Common Moorhen or Common Gallinule
Hen Common Gallinule or Moorhen
Coots with a Moorhen
This American Purple Gallinule was hunkered down among the reeds on the shoreline of Lake Griffin at the Bourlay Nature Park in Leesburg, Florida on April 19, 2018 at about 6:00pm. I spotted the bird because it got spooked by the presence of an American Alligator circling around in the shallows of the lake near where the gallinule was hidden.
The Purple Gallinule that I photographed is a male and it sure is handsome with bright blue and purple feathers, a red-orange fleshy area over its beak, and bright yellow legs and feet. The Purple Gallinule resembles the Common Moorhens and the Common Coots. The Purple Gallinules often are spotted in shallow waters on the shoreline of lakes, striding around on top of lily pads and reed mats. It has long thin toes which help it stay balanced on tippy floating leaves. By the way, this is only the second Purple Gallinule I have ever spotted. Please click on the thumbnail image to see the slightly larger version of the photo. Enjoy!