The New Guinea birds are smaller, at 25–32 cm in length, than the Australian race (35–40 cm, 55–65 cm wingspan). In Indonesia, this species is declining because of competition from the closely related common moorhen on the islands where both birds occur.
The adult dusky moorhen is mainly dark grey-black, with a browner tinge to the upper parts. It has a red frontal shield and yellow-tipped red bill like its Eurasian relative, but lacks the white flank line shown by common moorhen, and has orange-yellow rather than yellow legs.
Sexes are similar, but young birds have mid-brown plumage. This is a noisy species with a loud kruk call.
This species builds a bulky nest at the water's edge, and lays 5-18 whitish eggs. It is territorial when breeding, but otherwise gregarious.
Various views and plumages
Brisbane City Botanical Gardens, Queensland, Australia
- Rails by Taylor and van Perlo, ISBN 90-74345-20-4
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