Dusky Moorhen in Western Australia

on 9th April 2009

Willis was in Western Australia in December 2008 and visited Herdsman Lake in northwestern Perth. There, he encountered the Dusky Moorhen (Gallinula tenebrosa).

“Like clockwork, the moorhens will start chasing one another round the lake after 7pm. So I’m prone flat on the ground waiting for the action to start. And once in a while I have to check my surroundings to ensure the black tiger snake is not nearby… the black tiger snake is very common at Herdsman Lake and if bitten the mortality rate is up to 45%.”

These rails are territorial, forming groups of up to seven birds, comprising of one to three males to a female. As the sexes cannot be easily differentiated, the pair in the lake can either be two males in aggression or a male and a female in courtship. Whatever it is, the birds are in their breeding mode, as seen from their red legs.

Dusky Moorhens are usually seen in freshwater, as long as there are floating or emergent vegetation. It feeds by day in water or on land, feeding on plants as well as insects, molluscs, fish and worms. By night these birds retire to group roosting sites above water, standing in reeds or shrubs to sleep.

This post is a cooperative effort between and BESG to bring the study of bird behaviour through photography to a wider audience.

If you like this post please tap on the Like button at the left bottom of page. Any views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the authors/contributors, and are not endorsed by the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM, NUS) or its affiliated institutions. Readers are encouraged to use their discretion before making any decisions or judgements based on the information presented.

YC Wee

Dr Wee played a significant role as a green advocate in Singapore through his extensive involvement in various organizations and committees: as Secretary and Chairman for the Malayan Nature Society (Singapore Branch), and with the Nature Society (Singapore) as founding President (1978-1995). He has also served in the Nature Reserve Board (1987-1989), Nature Reserves Committee (1990-1996), National Council on the Environment/Singapore Environment Council (1992-1996), Work-Group on Nature Conservation (1992) and Inter-Varsity Council on the Environment (1995-1997). He is Patron of the Singapore Gardening Society and was appointed Honorary Museum Associate of the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM) in 2012. In 2005, Dr Wee started the Bird Ecology Study Group. With more than 6,000 entries, the website has become a valuable resource consulted by students, birdwatchers and researchers locally and internationally. The views and opinions expressed in this article are his own, and do not represent those of LKCNHM, the National University of Singapore or its affiliated institutions.

Other posts by YC Wee

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