Nebraska Ornithologists' Union


Date of this Version



William C. Garthright, “Nesting Common Moorhen in Lancaster County,” from Nebraska Bird Review (December 1984) 52(4).


Copyright 1984 Nebraska Ornithologists’ Union. Used by permission.


On 6 July 1984, at 6 PM CDT, I saw a Common Moorhen at the Capitol Beach marsh, in Lincoln. It was about 10 yards to the north when I first saw it, and I could see the red facial shield and red bill with yellow tip, the yellow legs, a thin white horizontal line along the side, and prominent white patches along either side of dark undertail coverts. It acted mildly agitated, and swam away from me but stayed in the vicinity.

At 7 the next morning I waded into the pond at that spot. This time I saw two adults that stayed close together and appeared to be a pair, and I found a nest with 10 eggs in a small clump of narrow-leaved cattails. The nest was a well-made, compact cup of cattails, floating on the water but anchored to the cattails. It looked more compact and of better construction, with a deeper cup, than an American Coot’s nest. The eggs were tan, with small brown spots of varying sizes irregularly scattered over the entire shell. The ground color was darker and the eggs were less uniformly spotted than a Coot’s egg. I measured one with a tape measure. It was 1 5/8 inches long x 1 1/4 inches in diameter.