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Common Gallinule

Common Gallinule w 2 downy chicks, med res, Eagle Lakes, 2020-05-15, JAJ_0014.jpg
JEROME JACKSON
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Common Gallinules are resident birds found in ponds and marshes across Florida – especially where tall reeds, rushes, or cattails line the edges in shallow water. More northern populations are migratory. Adult Common Gallinules are somewhat chicken-like in appearance, but have blue-gray feathers, a bit of brown on the back, and white feathers that form a horizontal line along each side. Adults have a yellow-tipped bright red bill that extends to form a shield over its forehead. Young chicks are covered with black down – except for the top of the head which is nearly bald. Their tiny wings are bare, looking like pink toothpicks sticking out from their side. Downy chicks also have a red bill with a yellow tip – but no shield over the forehead. As the chicks grow and change plumage, they become dull gray birds with a dull, somewhat mottled yellow-brown bill. Older chicks stay with the pair and help feed the younger chick – a behavior known as “aunting”. As the bill of an older chick takes on the bright red color of an adult, the male chases it away.