American Game Birds

Illustrating More Than One Hundred Species In Natural Colors

By Chester A. Reed

Page 28

FLORIDA GALLINULE (Gallinula galeata). This is larger than any of our rails, measuring 14 in. in length; the bill is heavier even than that of the shorter billed rails and ends in a scaly shield on the forehead that is characteristic of gallinules. They share with Coots the names of "Mud-hen," "Water-hen" or " Moor-hen," the hen part of the name being because their notes, and they are very noisy birds, sound a great deal like the cackling of barnyard fowl. Their flight is no stronger than that of rails, but on land or water they are agile and graceful. Although they do not have webbed feet they can swim well and often dive when pursued. These birds are found commonly throughout temperate America, breeding from New England, Ontario and California south through South America to Chile.


PURPLE GALLINULE (Jonprnis martiniais). Very similar in form to Florida Gallinules, but brilliantly plumaged, the whole head and under parts being a rich purplish-blue, becoming bluish-green on the sides and black on the belly; back and wing coverts olive-green; under tail coverts pure white. Not uncommon in the South Atlantic and Gulf States; wanders casually to Nova Scotia, Ontario and Wisconsin.


COOT (Fulica americana). A most remarkable bird, at home equally in the water or on land in marshes. Plumage gray like that of the Florida Gallinule, but secondaries tipped with white, bill white with a black band or spots in the middle, practically no frontal plate, and the toes each with a lobed web. Coots swim and dive fully as well as any of our ducks, and are frequently seen on bays and in rivers in company with them, or in flocks of their own kind. While swimming they have a habit of nodding the head in time to the strokes of their feet. They are to be found throughout the United States and southern Canada. Commonly known as "Blue Peters."