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The Common Gallinule, (Gallinula galeata) is a bird in the Rallidae family which has recently been split from the Common Moorhen by the American Ornithologists' Union in July 2011. It lives around well-vegetated marshes, ponds, canals and other wetlands. The species is not found in the polar regions, or many tropical rainforests. But elsewhere the Common Gallinule is likely the most commonly seen rail species in much of North America, excepting the American Coot in some regions.
The Gallinule has dark plumage apart from the white undertail, yellow legs and a red facial shield. The young are browner and lack the red shield. It has a wide range of gargling calls and will emit loud hisses when threatened. This is a common breeding bird in marsh environments and well-vegetated lakes. Populations in areas where the waters freeze, such as southern Canada, and the northern USA, will migrate to more temperate climes. This species will consume a wide variety of vegetable material and small aquatic creatures. They forage beside or in the water, sometimes upending in the water to feed. It is often secretive, but can become tame in some areas. Despite loss of habitat in parts of its range, the Common Gallinule remains plentiful and widespread. They fight over territories and also hop around Lily pads. The nest is a basket built on the ground in dense vegetation. Laying starts in spring, between mid-March and mid-May in N hemisphere temperate regions. About 8 eggs are usually laid per female early in the season; a brood later in the year usually has only 5-8 or even less eggs. Nests may be re-used by different females. Incubation lasts about three weeks. Both parents incubate and feed the young. These fledge after 4050 days, become independent usually a few weeks thereafter, and may raise their first brood the next spring. When threatened, the young may cling to the parents' body, after which the adult birds fly away to safety, carrying their offspring with them. The Common Gallinule is as abundant as its vernacular name implies. It is therefore considered a species of Least Concern by the IUCN. This species is parasitised by the moorhen flea, Dasypsyllus gallinulae.
In addition to the nominate form, there are Pleistocene populations known from fossils; they were distinct (generally larger) birds and probably the direct ancestors of some of today's Common Moorhens: The stout and long-winged paleosubspecies G. c. brodkorbi is known from the Ichetucknee River deposits in Florida; it was originally described as a distinct species. The presence of fossils typical of the shorter-winged and more delicate G. c. cerceris in the same deposits suggests that brodkorbi was not ancestral to the "Florida Gallinule" of our time but rather to the more northernly "Common Gallinule".