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The British moorhen (Gallinula chloropus) looks very familiar to me as we have a similar bird in my native New Zealand, and I remember also being surprised during a visit to the Amazon jungle when I lived in Peru to see a bird I recognised from home – their purple gallinule (Porphyrio martinicus) looks remarkably like the New Zealand pukeko (Porphyrio melanotus melanotus). All three birds make the same high-pitched squeak and have that same cheeky strut, continuously flashing their white undertail as they sashay along, though there are some colour differences. The beaks of each are different, and the plumage of the moorhen seems much less vibrant to my eye.

160130 pukeko

New Zealand pukeko (above) & purple gallinule, from the Peruvian Amazon (below)

160130 Purple gallinule Manu

The moorhen (below) is widespread throughout Britain, second only to the mallard in the extent of its habitable range. Prior to 1954, when nest predation was made illegal, eggs were regularly taken for food – apparently they go well with bacon! The bird itself can be shot and eaten during the season, though I’m not sure how palatable their strong dark meat would be, and I really can’t imagine how anyone would want to kill or eat a bird that is so pretty and so highly entertaining.

160130 moorhen

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