Common Gallinule (Gallinula galeata)

Common Gallinule


The common gallinule (Gallinula galeata) is a bird in the family Rallidae. It was split from the common moorhen by the American Ornithologists' Union in July 2011. It lives around well-vegetated marshes, ponds, canals, and other wetlands in the Americas. The species is not found in the polar regions or many tropical rainforests. Elsewhere, the common gallinule is likely the most commonly seen rail species in much of North America, except for the American coot in some regions.

Distribution And Habitat

The Common Gallinule is a common resident species in Puerto Rico known to occur in wetlands and various water bodies throughout the main island, Culebra, and Vieques (Raffaele 1989a), in the latter being a fairly common breeding resident (Gemmill 2015). This species is most common in freshwater habitats among rivers, brackish waters, canals, ditches, mangroves, stream banks, reservoirs, creeks, and ponds with dense vegetation (Oberle 2018). The atlas fieldwork yielded a total of 449 records within 222 hexagons or 46 percent of the 479 total hexagons (see map). Of the 222 hexagons where this species was found, breeding met the atlas definition of confirmed in 31 percent (69) of the hexagons, probable in 26 percent (57), and possible in 43 percent (95), while the species was observed in an additional hexagon (<1 percent) but without evidence of breeding (see map). Common Gallinule distribution. The map shows the highest breeding code by hexagon and overlaying the ecological life zones in Puerto Rico. Note: percentages may not total 100 due to rounding.

Common Gallinule Distribution

Breeding Habits

The Common Gallinule builds its nest on fl oating vegetation, in a shrub, or on the ground (Oberle 2018). Previously published reports indicate that its breeding 97Common Gallinule/Gallareta Comúnactivity extends year-round, peaking in May to September (Raffaele and others 1998). Atlas results confirm that the breeding season extends throughout the year, but the highest breeding activity peaks in March to June (see chart). Results show that the Common Gallinule is a habitat generalist that breeds within all ecological life zones except the subtropical rain forest life zone, a pattern that coincides with the abundance of these life zones in the island. Most breeding activity was reported within the subtropical moist forest life zone (65 percent of the hexagons), followed by the subtropical dry and subtropical wet forest life zones (24 and 10 percent of the hexagons, respectively) (see table and map).


The Common Gallinules overall population trend is suspected to be stable, and it is listed as a species of least concern by the IUCN (BirdLife International 2016). Locally, this species is not listed in any of the threatened categories of PRDNER and USFWS. In Puerto Rico, the Common Gallinule has a protected habitat in land of 11 percent or 586 km2 of the total area covered by the hexagons where evidence of breeding was found for this species (5283 km2).