Various Water Birds

 Family Rallidae


Most of the birds in this section are seldom seen in gardens, but are generally quite common on and around the major lakes of Canberra and at the numerous water quality ponds and dams throughout the suburbs and surrounding areas.


Purple Swamphen

Porphyrio porphyrio

These large conspicuous birds are common on the edges of bodies of water where there are reeds for cover and food. Purple Swamphens can often be seen grazing on grassy areas around the lakes, but they prefer young reed stems. They are also seen loitering around picnic areas or inspecting rubbish bins. They live in groups of two to ten often with dependent young. There are 12 survey records.

Eurasian Coot

Fulica atra

Coots are more at home on open water than moorhens and swamphens, but can come ashore to graze on areas where the grass is short. They generally eat aquatic plants and algae, often diving for it, bringing it to the surface to sort out what to eat. Eurasian Coots are sociable birds and can often be seen in large rafts (sometimes hundreds or even thousands of birds) resting some distance from the shore. They can be recognised at some distance by the very conspicuous white bill and frontal shield. There are 14 survey records.


Dusky Moorhen

Gallinula tenebrosa

Dusky Moorhens are one of the more common permanent residents on Canberra’s lakes. They live in cooperative groups of two to seven birds with each female having one to three males in attendance. They require reeds and sedges around the edge of the lake for cover. They eat plant material on land or in the water, as well as insects, fish and small animals. At night they roost in reeds or in trees or shrubs above the water. There are 12 records in the survey.