Rednosed Reedbird

Welcome to race day eve. Tomorrow the alarm will ring at 4:45am to signal the start of another day of racing. Fortunately, this one is a slight downgrade from the half to a 15K – now, for the record, it is the toughest 15K in Illinois thanks in part to a repeat loop with a wicked hill. That doesn’t concern me much thanks to a lot of hill work during training, but what does concern me is that two word weather term HEAT INDEX. Earlier this week the night temps dropped into the high sixties. No luck keeping that around. The heat index is supposed to get around 105F. Wish me luck, ever since the heat stroke episode, my internal thermostat has been very touchy. Always helps me to relax to sit down and get a post out.

Common Gallinule found at South Padre Island Bird Viewing and Nature Center, December 2017

Unlike the bulk of the posts lately (more like this year), the featured waterbird is not a new bird for my list. Nope, they were previously featured not once, but twice here already (link here and here). Not to mention, every time I see this bird the first thing that pops into my head is the image of my brother Ron trying to get into a good position to get a picture of one only to end up falling halfway down a large embankment and rolling to the bottom. Think my laughter ended up scaring the bird and for all that work, nothing to show in the tin – although a memory to last a lifetime.

Common Gallinule found at South Padre Island Bird Viewing and Nature Center, December 2017

Hit the jump to read more about this red nosed bird (apparently heavy drinkers ha)

Originally this interestingly colored bird was referred to as the Common Moorhen in association with its old world cousins. Back in 2011, it was decided that the new world variety was a different species. This brought with it the new name of Common Gallinule. On a personal note, this was an unwelcome change because I can spell Moorhen. Remembering how to spell Gallinule is harder than running a 15K in 105 heat. Better yet, is the alternative name for the Moorhen – the Swamp Chicken. That is even fun to say.

Common Gallinule found at South Padre Island Bird Viewing and Nature Center, December 2017

All of the shots above were taken on our recent trip to South Padre Island Bird Viewing and Nature Center on our Christmas Holiday trip down the Texas Gulf Coast. They also happen to be my favorite to date due to the comical leg poses that specimen kept striking. Decided to go ahead and throw in a few more shots from a previous trip to the same place.

Common Gallinule found at South Padre Island Bird Viewing and Nature Center, December 2016

These Swamp Chicken … sorry, Common Gallinule shots also came from a Christmas trip down the Texas Gulf Coast but back a previous year (2016). It was definitely warmer that year by at least 20 to 30 degrees and, as you can tell from the shots, it was also sunny on that trip where grey clouds were the theme for our later visit.

Common Gallinule found at South Padre Island Bird Viewing and Nature Center, December 2016

Similar to the previous shots, the toes stole the show on this series. The Moorh… crap, Gallinules have downright creepy feet. Imagine yellow worms hanging off the end of a stick. These worms give the Swamp Chicken the ability to navigate the reeds and soft mud in their preferred habitat. You can see from the images, those worm toes are perfectly adapted for the uneven surfaces of the marsh. Creepy, but effective.

Common Gallinule found at South Padre Island Bird Viewing and Nature Center, December 2016

Both the female and the male sport the same coloring, bright red cap, a grey brown feather palette with a white detail stripe to accentuate their sweet lines. In case you encounter a group of Gallinules on your birding (or canoe trips), you might notice some of them have a duller, more orange/yellowish bill. That would be the juvenile variety and due to them not really having the red cap/shield developed yet. The one below has just started maturing. Admittedly, I used to think this lack of color indicated the female of the species.

Common Gallinule found at South Padre Island Bird Viewing and Nature Center, December 2016

Out of pictures, so better wrap this up and get to bed. No reason to make the race any harder than it is already going to be thanks to lack of sleep. Hope you enjoyed another round of images of the Swamp Chicken (admit it, that sounds a lot cooler than their real name hehehe).

2 thoughts on “Rednosed Reedbird”

  1. I’ll have to read your review of the race in your next post–I hear that it was a scorching nightmare!!

    You will be very glad to hear that the latest issue of Birdwatching Magazine (August) says that the North and Middle America Classification Committee of the American Ornithological Society, which is in charge of things like this, will announce their decision in July on whether to rename the Common Gallinule and Common Moorhen, which apparently is a confusion between two marsh birds. So the Common Gallinule will be renamed to the American Moorhen and the Common Moorhen will be renamed to the Eurasian Moorhen, and this is supposed to clear all that up. In fact, the Eurasian species has been spotted only once in North America in 2010 on an Aleutian Island, so we can just go with American Moorhen instead of the Common Gallinule, the latter of which I agree is a weird name. (Oh, and a decision on renaming the Rock Pigeon to the Rock Dove, a name change they don’t deserve, IMO.)

    Speaking of that, you might want to check your Mallard pics from Texas, as the darker subspecies called the “Mexican Duck” that occurs in parts of Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, and Mexico may also be split as they once were into a separate species from Mallards, and in fact may be more closely related to the American Black Duck we’ve seen down South. Both males and females closely resemble female Mallards, although the body color is somewhat darker than a typical female Mallard.

    Anyway, I also thought the yellow bill meant a female for these ducks, not a juvenile, so that was good to learn. And you’re right, those toes are creepy.

    For the record, it was not my fault that I fell down that hill! I was walking on a fallen tree limb about 3 feet or more off the ground on the side of the hill when it broke in two, throwing me off and throwing my camera even further as I tumbled through waist-high brush to the bottom. There aren’t a lot of times when I feel totally out of control, but that was one of them! I was afraid you got pictures of that event, but since it’s been a few years and none have surfaced I’m pretty confident that none exist, thankfully. 🙂



    1. wow, that comment is longer than my post – sweet! Okay, first off, I will do a Snoopy dance if they change this bird’s stupid new name back to American Moorhen. If nothing else, it will save me minutes on my future Moorhen posts by not having to go to Google and do a search on how to spell Gallinule. So, thank you American Ornithological Society. Secondly, I completely agree that we should be elevating the Rock Pigeon to a Rock Dove. I feel bad for all the other properly named Doves to now have the stigma of having a Rock among them (although technically always in the same species, but successfully ostracized). I will definitely go check my Mallard pictures for another +1. I try to take at least one picture of every bird (yes, even Cowbirds) whenever I come upon them for this very case – accidental +1’s. In fact, that is how I got my Mottled Duck thinking it was just a female Mallard at the time.

      For the record, I DO HAVE PICTURES of what we shall refer to as “the event”. You just happen to be benefiting from the fact that my picture queue is so full…. due time, due time.

      Thanks for dropping by and the excellent comment!


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