Distinguishing Features - Length: 26 cm; wingspan: 53 cm. Sexes similar. Fairly large, duck-like waterbird with short wings and a short tail. Red frontal shield above red bill with a yellow tip. Slate gray head, neck, breast and belly; brownish back and upperwings; white stripe along upper flanks; tarsus and feet greenish yellow, tibia red.
In winter, from Texas to South Carolina, common, and resident. In summer, as far north as the Ottawa Valley in Canada; sometimes in southern Manitoba. This Gallinule prefers fresh water marshes and seldom resorts to salt water. Not considered a migratory bird, this species flies very well whenever it has occasion to rise from the ground. In general, the Gallinules are averse from flying, unless anxious to move from one lake or stream to another.
The diet consists of grasses, seeds, water-insects, worms, and snails.
The nest is a work of art compared to many other water birds, being composed of a quantity of withered rushes and plants, interwoven in a circular form, frequently from two to three inches thick in the centre, surrounded by an edge or brim four or five inches high. If not greatly disturbed, these birds raise several broods in a season, using the same nest, and making additions to it previous to depositing each new set of eggs.
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