Common Gallinule (Photo by Jim Rathert/USFWS)

Common Gallinule

A charcoal gray bird with a rusty back, white body striping, and a red bill, the common gallinule is equally at home swimming in water and walking on land. Both sexes have the bright red bill and forehead shield, although the male’s is brighter.

Listen For

Whinnying, squeaky notes in a series, slowing down near the end. Sounds like someone is torturing a frog. Also a high, sharp peek!


Distant gallinules can be told apart from coots by the white horizontal side stripes and extensive white on the tails.

Find It

You may hear a gallinule before you see it, but look for it in or near the dense vegetation along the edge of freshwater marshes and ponds doing a “funky chicken” motion as it swims or walks.


What looks like a duck but is not a duck? A common gallinule, which is more closely related to cranes and rails than to ducks (even though they swim like ducks).

1 thought on “Common Gallinule”

  1. Lynn Lufburrow Cress

    Have one of these at my pond. Acts tame. When I call pretty girl, come within 5 ft of me!!! Showed up 2 mos ago. Thought maybe someone’s pet that got lost

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