Saturday, 18 July 2015

Bird of the week - Moorhen

Moorhens are very attentive parents.  The average clutch size is six so this pair is doing well with eight chicks.

The chicks are strange-looking creatures with bald heads and enormous legs and feet.  The "ears" behind its head are its tiny underdeveloped wings which it flaps to try to attract the parent's attention.

It proved impossible to get them all lined up for a photo.

Moorhen numbers declined in the 70s and 80s, probably because of the spread of American mink, but have stabilised recently.

The moorhen's scientific name Gallinula chloropus means green-footed little hen.  Its name in several European languages translates as water hen.  Its English name derives from "mere hen".  As the Bird Atlas shows, moorhens are found in most areas of the British Isles where there is fresh water.

Listen to Chris Packham's BBC Radio 4 Tweet of the Day on the moorhen here.  Read more about moorhens here.

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