moorhen defined in 1930 yearmoorhen - Moorhen;
moorhen - [res:Gallinula chloropus]Fore part of the bill yellow; base and frontal plate red; irides red; upper parts dark olive-brown; head, neck, and under parts slate-grey, with some white streaks on the flanks; under tail- coverts pure white; legs greenish yellow, rod above the tarsal joint. Length, thirteen inches. In this species the female is larger and more brightly coloured than the male.
The moorhen is one of our most familiar wild birds; for not only is it common and generally distributed in the British Islands, but where it is not molested, and the stream, or pond, or ditch it inhabits is close to the homestead, it becomes almost domestic in its habits, and will freely mix with the poultry and share their food. Furthermore, it attracts a good deal of attention, and is something of a favourite with most people, on account of its pretty appearance and quaint, graceful carriage, as it moves over the turf with measured steps, nodding its head and jerking its tail in order to display the conspicuous snow-white under-coverts.
The name of moorhen, which some writers dislike, is old English for marsh-hen, from moorish, which had the same meaning as marshy. Water-hen, another time-honoured name for this bird, is still in common use; but mot-hen, or moat-hen, from the bird's habit of frequenting moats when moated houses were common in England, is now obsolete.
The moorhen swims and dives with ease, and feeds a good deal in the water, usually keeping near the fringe of weeds, in which it takes refuge on the slightest alarm. When hunted it dives, and is able to remain submerged for an indefinite time by grasping the weeds at the bottom with its claws and keeping its nostrils above the surface.
The nest is generally placed on the ground among the reeds or rushes, but many other sites are used; and sometimes it is built in a tree several feet above the ground. Seven or eight eggs are laid, reddish white in ground-colour, thinly speckled and spotted with orange-brown. The young when hatched are covered with a black hairy down. Two or three broods are reared in the season, and it has been observed that the young of the first brood sometimes assist the parents in making a new nest and in rearing the young of the second brood.
The moorhen feeds on worms, slugs, insects of all kinds, and vegetable substances.
near moorhen in Knolik
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