1402. Gallinula chloropus.
Fulica chloropus, Linn. Syst. Nat. i, p. 258 (1766). Gallinula chloropus, Blyth, Cat. p. 286; Jerdon, B. I. iii, p. 718; Godw.-Aust. J. A. S. B. xxxix, pt. 2, p. 274; xlv, pt. 2, p. 84 ; Hume, S. F. i, p. 250; Adam, ibid. p. 393; Stoliczka, S. F. ii, p. 461; Hume & Oates, S. F. iii, p. 187 ; Blyth & Wald. Birds Burm. p. 162; Butler, S. F. iv, p. 20; v, p. 224; ix, p. 431 ; Inglis, S. F. v, p. 46; Hume Dav. S. F. vi, p. 466; Anders. Yunnan Exped., Aves p. 692; Ball & Hume, S. F. vii, p. 229; Legge, Birds Ceyl. p. 781; Hume, Cat. no. 905; Doig, S. F. viii, p. 371; Vidal, S. F. ix, p. 87; Parker, S. F. ix, p. 483 ; Biddulph, Ibis, 1881, p. 98; Scully, ibid. p. 590; Reid, S. F. x, p. 73; Davison, ibid. p. 415; Macgregor, ibid. p. 441; Oates, B. B. ii, p. 347 : Barnes, Birds Bom. p. 368 ; id. Jour. Bom. N. H. Soc. i, p. 62; vi, p. 13S; Parker, Ibis, 1886, p. 187 ; Hume, S. F. xi, p. 328; Oates in Hume's N. & E. 2nd ed. iii, p. 389; Sharpe, Yarkand Miss., Aves, p. 146; id. Cat. B. M. xxiii, p. 169. Gallinula parvifrons, Blyth, J. A. S. B. xii, p. 180 (1843). Gallinula burnesii, Blyth, J. A. S. B. xxiii, p. 737 ; Jerdon, B. I. iii, p. 719 ; Blyth, Ibis, 1867, p. 171 ; Hume, N. & E. p. 599 ; id. Cat. no. 906.
Jal-Murghi, H.; Dakah-paira, Beng.; Jumbu-Kodi, Boli-Kodi, Tel.
Coloration. Head and neck blackish grey, passing into dark slaty grey on the breast and flanks, the latter with a few broad white stripes; back and scapulars brownish olive; rump and tertiaries browner; wing-coverts more olive ; quills and primary-coverts blackish brown; edge of wing and generally the outer border of the first primary white; outer tail-feathers black; middle of abdomen, with rare exceptions, partly white ; under tail-coverts white, except a tuft of shorter coverts in the middle, which is black.
Young birds have the head, neck, and lower parts brownish grey; the latter much mixed with white.
Frontal shield and basal half or two-thirds of bill red, remainder of bill greenish yellow ; irides red ; tibia and front of tarsus greenish yellow, hind part of tarsus and all toes slaty green ; an orange ring round the tibia just below the feathered portion (Oates).
Length 12.5 ; tail 2.75 ; wing 6.5 ; tarsus 1.9 ; bill from gape 1.1. Females run smaller. Indian birds are smaller than European.
Distribution. The greater part of Europe, Asia, and Africa, including the whole of India, Ceylon, and Burma. This species is in India a resident or a partial migrant, leaving particular tracts in the season when swamps and streams are dry. In Gilgit the Moorhen is only found when passing in the spring and autumn.
Habits, &c. In India the Moorhen is more commonly found about reedy tanks and marshes, especially those much covered with floating vegetation, than on the banks of rivers, though it also resorts to the latter at times. It swims well with a jerky movement, and it runs when on land with the tail erect and the white under tail-coverts conspicuous. Like other Bails, it feeds on various kinds of vegetable food and on insects. The breeding-season in India varies somewhat, but is generally in July, August, and September in the plains. In the hills this bird is believed to breed twice: in May and again about July. The nest is a bulky platform of straw, flags, or rushes, in the water or close to it, sometimes in a bush, and the eggs, 5 to 9 in number, are pale stone-colour, spotted and speckled with red, reddish brown, and purple, and measuring about 1.62 by 1.21.