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Common Moorhen (Gallinula Chloropus)

The common moorhen's long toes help support its weight as it searches for food on floating vegetation or cares for young near their floating nest, which is interwoven among emergent vegetation. When disturbed, the moorhen slips quietly into nearby cattails and bur-reeds. You are more likely to see this elusive species in the dim light of dawn and dusk or hear its nasal, descending, chickenlike cackling. Large numbers of common moorhens used to breed on the lakes and sloughs around St. Louis in the 1880s, but their numbers have decreased to the point where they are now considered rare in Missouri. Their survival depends on the presence of large wetlands and vegetated areas along slow moving streams on the flood plains of big rivers -- Brad Jacobs, wildlife ecologist