The Common Moorhen or Common Gallinule (Gallinula chloropus) is a bird in the Rail family with an almost worldwide distribution.. Most species walk and run vigorously on strong legs, and have long toes which are well adapted to soft, uneven surfaces. Joan Chasan photographed the following at Great Meadows National Wildlife refuge in Concord: American bullfrog, common moorhen, great blue heron, northern water snake, osprey, Virginia rail, Virginia rail chick, yellow-headed blackbird. They are omnivores. The Moorhen is the most common of our river birds. Can be found on any freshwater habitat with abundant emergent vegetation, including town canals, muddy ditches, and large lakes. It lives around well-vegetated marshes, ponds, canals, etc. Nests near water, usually in emergent vegetation or on a floating raft. The species is not found in the polar regions, or many tropical rainforests. Most nest in dense vegetation. The common moorhen is also known as the American gallinule. Rails. Gallinule, which is Latin for "chicken-like," describes the way moorhens walk and peck at food along the water's edge. It is widespread throughout the country, only in parts of the west, is it absent or rare. The coots and moorhens of the Railidae family generally occupy dense vegetation in damp environments near lakes, swamps, or rivers. The Common Gallinule swims like a duck and walks atop floating vegetation like a rail with its long and slender toes. This boldly marked rail has a brilliant red shield over the bill and a white racing stripe down its side. It squawks and whinnies from thick cover in marshes and ponds from Canada to Chile, peeking in and out of vegetation. In some locales, the moorhen is known as the blue rail, chicken-foot coot, red-billed mud hen and Florida gallinule.