My first "real" bird book, Roger Tory Peterson's A Field Guide to the Birds (1939 printing) called them Florida Gallinules, their popular name for many years. They were also called "Common Moorhens," after the nearly identical Old World species by that name. There was disagreement, not only as to whether they were indeed the same species, but also because there are no "moors" in the New World.
I took my first photo of a "Common Moorhen" in 2008 with my first DSLR camera. Look at those big green feet!:
Peterson was obviously one of those who resisted the name change, still calling it the Florida Gallinule in my well-worn 1947 edition. I liked the exotic sound of its name, even though it was fairly common in the northeastern US and even up into New England:
The American Ornithological Union changed the species' name to "Common Gallinule" in 1957. Then, in 1983 I had to get accustomed to another name when the AOU officially reverted it to "Common Moorhen," considering it to be a subspecies of the the Old World moorhen. This new name has stuck in my brain ever since, along with other obsolete bird names such as "Sparrow Hawk, Pigeon Hawk, Duck Hawk and Marsh Hawk." Thank goodness that the names of Wilson's Snipe and Green Heron were restored before I adjusted to their interim titles!
In 2011 the Common Moorhen's name reverted back to "Common Gallinule" as a full species separate from the Eurasian Moorhen. This name does not fall off my tongue very readily because of this bird's demure appearance as compared to the only "real" one, our Purple Gallinule:
The scientific name for the Common Gallinule also changed from Gallinula chloropus (literally "green-footed chicken") to G. galeata ("helmeted chicken").
Members of the rail family, they are year-round residents of Florida. The local population is augmented in winter by migrants from the eastern and central US. They may not mate for life but are very territorial and protective of their nest and mate during breeding season.
While checking on the status of the Wood Stork colony in nearby Weston, Florida...
...I witnessed a confrontation between rival Common Gallinule males. A possessive suitor saw another male with amorous intentions approach his chosen mate and immediately flew in to do battle.
Those big green feet were made for walking on lily pads, but do come in handy during a wrestling match!:
The intruder gave up and was chased away:
The object of their affection seemed disinterested in the action:
Other sightings at the Wood Stork rookery---
Tricolored Heron in full breeding plumage. Its eyes turn red and bill becomes bright blue:
Back at our local wetlands on a still morning, a Mottled Duck...
...and a Great Egret reflect:
The Moon and Jupiter preside over a stormy sunrise:
A Prairie Warbler basks in soft morning light:
A female Ruby-throated Hummingbird sips nectar from Firebush (Hamelia patens) flowers:
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