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Sunday, June 17, 2012

Spanish Bird of the Week #6: Common Moorhen

By James

There are several North American birds that have a nearly identical European counterpart. Our Winter Wren is essentially indistinguishable from the Eurasian Wren. The Green-winged Teal is so similar to the Common Teal that it still hasn’t been split by the AOU. A couple months before I left for Spain, our Common Gallinule was split from Europe’s Common Moorhen, a bird I encountered in the urban Parque Maria Luisa.

(Spoiler: I also got the Eurasian Wren and the Common Teal, but we’ll get there eventually.) 

The Common Moorhen was a bird I’d been hoping to get, but I wasn’t expecting to find it in such a small pond. In fact, when I first found the bird I didn’t even have my camera me! I came back the next day and it was in the same pond, and while it seemed a little frightened of me it couldn’t really get too far.

As surprised as I was to find Common Moorhens in such an urban area, I was even more surprised to find that they were breeding in the park. When I visited the spot a few weeks later, I found a Common Moorhen, presumably the same one, swimming with offspring.

Unfortunately, as a result of the odd and jerky swimming motion of the moorhen, I was never able to get a fantastic picture, despite the fact that I was often within fifteen feet of them. Now I just need to find the American version of this cool and colorful waterfowl!

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