For those proud owners of larger areas of water, there is a water bird that you should welcome with open arms, should you be lucky enough that they decide to make your back garden their home and breeding ground.
Moorhens, or Marsh Hens, (Latin name Gallinula Chloropus) are black water birds with red beaks. They are similar to and are often confused with Coots that have white beaks. Moorhens are solitary birds, and well adapted to a life on ponds, canals, wetlands, woodland marshes, and water meadows. Their loud single calls, often heard throughout the spring and summer, are pleasing to the ears. With long legs and large webbed feet, they are perfect for fast swimming , walking and running over and amongst floating pond vegetation. Moorhens eat a wide and varied array of vegetation; as well as small fish, crustaceans, amphibians and a vast range of insects.
Marsh Hens start constructing nests as early as late February and sometimes even earlier. The nests are raised above emerged water plants and are constructed out of rushes and other pond vegetation. They usually have two broods a year, one in early spring March – April, and the second in July – August, though occasionally there is a third brood. On average there are 5-8 eggs in a single nest, and the incubation period is 19-22 days. Unfortunately, baby Moorhens have a lot of predators so have a low survival rate. Foxes, Herons and large predatory fish like fresh water Pike, will all take baby Moorhens for a quick and easy snack.