Gallinula angulata (Lesser moorhen)
Kleinwaterhoender [Afrikaans]; Edenene (generic term for gallinules and
moorhens) [Kwangali]; Nhapata (generic name for coot, gallinule, moorhen,
crake or rail) [Shona]; Kukumezani (generic name for moorhen or coot)
[Tsonga]; Afrikaans waterhoen [Dutch]; Gallinule africaine [French];
Zwergteichhuhn [German]; Galinha-d'įgua-pequena [Portuguese]
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fish) > Stegocephalia (terrestrial
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Coelurosauria > Maniraptora > Aves
Order: Gruiformes > Family: Rallidae
Distribution and habitat
Occurs sub-Saharan Africa; in southern Africa it is locally common in northern Namibia (including the Caprivi Strip),
northern and eastern Botswana, Zimbabwe and north-eastern South Africa. It
generally prefers freshwater wetlands such as swamps, marshes, ponds, sewage
ponds and seasonally inundated grassland and flood plains.
Distribution of Lesser moorhen in southern Africa,
based on statistical smoothing of the records from first SA Bird Atlas
Animal Demography unit, University of
Cape Town; smoothing by Birgit Erni and Francesca Little). Colours range
from dark blue (most common) through to yellow (least common).
See here for the latest distribution
from the SABAP2.
Movements and migrations
Intra-African breeding migrant, breeding in
southern Africa and adjacent countries in the period from
November-May, mainly December-April.
Mainly eats insects, seeds and flowers of reeds and
molluscs, doing most of its foraging along the water's edge, plucking prey from
the mud and vegetation.
- Monogamous territorial solitary nester, arriving at its breeding grounds
soon after floods.
- The nest (see image below) is a shallow grass cup on a a platform of
bent live grass or sedge stems, flimsy at first but becoming progressively
stronger as more material is added.
Lesser moorhen at its nest, Sericea farm,
South Africa. [photo Warwick Tarboton ©]
- Egg-laying season is from November-March, peaking from January-February.
- It lays 4-9 eggs, which are mainly incubated by the female for about
- The chicks take their first flight at about 35-38 days old, becoming
fully independent roughly 5-6 weeks later.
Hockey PAR, Dean WRJ and Ryan PG 2005. Roberts
- Birds of southern Africa, VIIth ed. The Trustees of the John Voelcker
Bird Book Fund, Cape Town.