Excerpts from Jim Conrad's
from the October 23, 2011 Newsletter issued from Mayan Beach Garden Inn 20 kms
north of Mahahual, Quintana Roo, México
MOORHEN DOMESTIC SCENE
Above you see a family of Common Moorhens, GALLINULA CHLOROPUS, at a mangrove pond edge beside a dense stand of Sawgrass. A softly clucking adult with a bright red beak and frontal plate perches on a fallen tree trunk alertly watching as three immatures preen and forage at the Sawgrass's edge. Common Moorhens occur in the Yucatán only during the Northern winter, though they're permanent residents in most of upland Mexico, so these birds are recently arrived.
In similar habitats in the Yucatán closely related and similar looking Purple Gallinules and American Coots also can be seen during the winter. Moorhens can be distinguished from them at a distance by the white body stripe below the wings.
Moorhens are among the few bird species with nearly "cosmopolitan" distribution -- they occur planet-wide, though not in Australia and colder and desert regions. In the Americas they summer throughout the eastern US, moving south during the winter, but overwintering on the US's Deep South coast. My old field guide calls them Common Gallinules, but the trend is toward using "Moorhen" in deference to the older European usage.