Dusky Moorhens

The Dusky Moorhens (Gallinula tenebrosa) are rails found in Australia, New Guinea, and Indonesia. They inhabit wetland habitats, with a preference for freshwater marshes.


Those occurring in New Guinea tend to be smaller (averaging 25-32 cm in length). The Australian race measures between 35–40 cm in length and has a wingspan of 55–65 cm.

The adult Dusky Moorhen is mainly dark grey-black, with a browner tinge to the upper plumage.

t has a red frontal shield and yellow-tipped red bill and has orange-yellow legs.

Males and females look alike, but young birds have mid-brown plumage.

Dusky Moorhen (Gallinula tenebrosa)
Dusky Moorhen, Gallinula tenebrosa - Chicks

Dusky moorhens, Gallinula tenebrosa

Calls / Vocalizations

It’s call is described as a loud kruk call.

Diet / Feeding

They feed on a wide range of plant and animal foods.

Breeding / Nesting

They build bulky nests at the water’s edge.

A clutch consists of 5 – 18 whitish eggs.

They aggressively defend their breeding territories

Dusky Moorhen, Gallinula tenebrosa - Guarding the nes
Dusky Moorhen (Gallinula tenebrosa)
Dusky Moorhen, Gallinula tenebrosa - Adult
Dusky Moorhen, Gallinula tenebrosa
Dusky Moorhen, Gallinula tenebrosa - Sitting on nest
Dusky Moorhen
Photo of author

Team Beauty of Birds

Beautyofbirds.com's team of experts includes veterinarians, biologists, environmentalists and active bird watchers. All put together, we have over half a century of experience in the birding space.

You can meet our team here.