Bird Families

Horned Moorhen / Gallicrex cinerea


Second edition. First publication: Nazarov Yu.H. 1983. About nesting of horned moorhen in the USSR // Ornithology 18: 170-172.

Text of the scientific work on the nesting of the horned moorhen Gallicrex cinerea in Russia

on thin branches of a hazel bush 10 cm from the ground. The set of species of trees and shrubs chosen by the red brows for building nests is extensive: poplar, elm, field and ash-leaved maples, alder, wild apple, oak, linden, hazel, shrub willows, lilac, spruce, pine. The number of eggs in a clutch is 4-5, rarely 6.

Gavrilenko N.I. 1929. Birds of the Poltava region. Poltava: 1-133.

Menzbir M.A. 1895. Birds of Russia. M., 1: I-CXXII, 1-836, 2: I-XV, 837-1120.

Somov N.N. 1897. Ornithological fauna of the Kharkov province. Kharkov: 1-689.

Russian Ornithological Journal 2018, Volume 27, Express issue 1573: 975-979

About nesting of the horned moorhen Gallicrex cinerea in Russia

Second edition. First published in 1983 *

Horned moorhen Gallicrex cinerea (J.F. Gmelin, 1789) is widespread in southern and southeastern Asia, although the northern boundary of its range is unclear. The first sightings of the species within the USSR were qualified as cases of rare occurrence (Vorobyov 1938), but later suggestions were made about the possibility of nesting of horned moorhen in Primorye (Labzyuk, Nazarov 1967, Stepanyan 1975, Ivanov 1976), and V.K. Rakhilin (1965) considered its nesting proven on the basis of the prey of the "young" male in August 1959 at Terney, although it is not clear from this message what the age of the collected specimen is.

In Primorye, most birds were recorded in the extreme south (Khasansky District and the islands of the Peter the Great Bay), but it cannot be concluded from this that it is here that the horned moorhen is more abundant, since it is the islands and the vicinity of Khasan station that are most convenient for observing this species, and indeed bird watchers are here more often. There is also no reason to assert that G. cinerea has become more numerous in the territory of Primorye in recent years, since its frequency primarily reflects an increase in the number of observers. It should be noted that the first sightings of this species in the USSR date back to the time when the horned moorhen was rare in China north of the Yangtze (La Touche 1931-1934), although it was regularly recorded in the summer on

* Nazarov Yu.N. 1983. About nesting of horned moorhen in the USSR // Ornithology 18: 170-172. Rus. ornithol. zhurn. 2018. Volume 27. Express Edition No. 1573

northeast of Shanhaiguan on the coast of the Liaodong Bay (Wilder 1930), and on the Korean Peninsula Won (Won 1934 - quoted in Austin 1948) considered it "common", at the beginning of the 20th century it was "common" in the rice fields of the Guangdong Peninsula (Kershaw 1904). In recent decades, the number of horned moorhen, apparently, has not increased to any significant extent in the northeastern parts of the range. In particular, in Japan, this bird is still small in number (A HandList. 1958, Taka-Tsukasa 1967, Check-List. 1974). All this does not give grounds to assume that the species has spread to the north in recent years, and the absence of facts of nesting in Primorye once again indicates the secrecy of the horned moorhen, which is little known to ornithologists.

In 1980, horned moorhen nestled on the island of Bolshoi Pelis. The male (in full breeding plumage) was first seen on June 8, and the female on June 22, but it is possible that the birds appeared here somewhat earlier. They kept secret on an area of ​​about 12 hectares and did not show their presence in any way, although if desired, one of them could be scared out of the grass. Only on June 21, the male began to mate and immediately became clearly visible. During the current, it usually stayed about 150 m from the nest in a dry, low-grass meadow with a predominance of Stellaria radians, less often in a small sedge bog. Adopting several stems and leaves of grasses, the male arranged a semblance of a small platform, where he could be seen from afar in the daytime, and he himself had a good view of the adjacent slopes within a radius of 300-500 m.

The nest was located 300 m from the bog on a gentle slope in a small reed grass Calamagrostis angustifolia among reed-wormwood thickets about 1 m high.It was placed on several broken dry and fresh reed stalks 30 cm from the ground. The support of the nest seemed very fragile. In shape, the building resembled a ball with a carved upper quarter (from the side of the entrance). It is well hidden from above by a bent reed grass, from the front side the stems are broken off, and a short (40 cm) narrow "bridge" of slightly crumpled green stems leads to the nest at the entrance level. Later, when the female was disturbed at the nest, she trampled a short "bridge" to the back wall and made a move in it, although in the nest she always sat with her head to the front side. The outer part of the nest, including the roof, is woven from supporting and growing nearby plants; the tray is lined with a few long pieces of reed grass broken off at the entrance. Nest diameter 26 cm, height 18 cm (with roof 32 cm), tray diameter 19 cm, tray depth 12 cm.

Usually horned moorhen nests in reed and herb thickets along the banks of water bodies, in swamps and rice fields (Munn 1894, Whitehead 1899, La Touche, Rickett 1905, Baker 1929, La

Touche 1931-1934, Wilder, Hubbard 1938, Taka-Tsukasa 1967), but one nest was found in a tree (Jones 1911). The nest is located among the grass, usually low above the ground or water. In some cases it is cumbersome, in others it is thin, carelessly constructed (Taka-Tsukasa 1967).

The clutch contained 6 eggs *, which were ellipsoidal (4 specimens) and ovoid (2 specimens). The color of the shell is pale greenish-reddish with numerous superficial pale brown or reddish and deep brownish-purple strokes, evenly covering the entire surface. One egg had a pale greenish-bluish background and a small number of slightly darker (brown) strokes, concentrated mainly on the blunt end. These differences correspond to two types of egg coloration in horned moorhen, as indicated earlier (La Touche 1931-1934, Wilder, Hubbard 1938). Shell with a well-defined sheen. Egg sizes, mm: 42.0x33.0, 43.0x32.1, 42.0x31.8, 42.5x31.8, 41.5x31.9 and 43.5x31.3, i.e. slightly shorter and wider than eggs collected by Lyatush (La Touche 1931-1934) in China, but quite similar to those from different areas of the species range (Jones 1911, Baker 1929, etc.). The mass of eggs of horned moorhen 13.7-18.0 g (Schonwetter 1962).

On the island of Bolshoi Pelis, clutching was completed, apparently, on July 24-25, since on August 1, in one of the eggs, the embryo reached a length of 2 cm and already had front and hind limbs, but still without fingers. Eggs began to hatch on August 13 in the afternoon - a cruciform crack appeared on each of them. In the morning of the next day, there were no holes in the eggshell yet, but the chicks squeaked and chirped quite loudly, like grasshoppers. Puffs appeared on the night of August 15, at 7 o'clock one of them was still completely wet, two were half-withered and two were completely dry, there were no females on the nest, and the chicks squeaked loudly, so that their voice was heard 4-5 m from the nest , at 16 o'clock they sat in silence and, at my approach, warily raised their heads. On the first day, the chicks still could not stand, but rather quickly moved in jerks on a smooth surface for short distances, leaning on the tarsus.

The weight of a one-day down jacket was 14.5 g. Its dorsal side, head and throat are black with a faint green metallic sheen, chest, belly and sides are grayish-black, flesh-colored beak, bluish-flesh-colored cutting edge of the jaws, bare forehead, ridge of upper beak up to middle level parts of the nostril, a narrow strip from it to the front edge of the nostril, the base of the lower part of the beak and the base of the beak are black, the egg tooth is white, the nostrils are oval, located at an angle of 45 ° to the lower edge of the beak, the walls of the oral

* According to Baker (1929), a clutch contains 3-5, rarely 8 eggs, but there are indications that it can reach 12 eggs (Taka-Tsukasa 1967).

flesh-colored bones, along the edges of the jaws and at the end of the tongue along a violet-brown stripe, iridescent brown, the claw of the outer toe is whitish with a brown base, the legs are black-gray, the claws are black-brown.

It was possible to come close to the incubating female. In case of danger, she jumped out of the nest and immediately silently took off, described a wide arc and sat in dense grass 200-300 m from the nest, sometimes flew up the slope in just 30-50 m.Only once a disturbed female made a quiet short grunting sound ... During daylight hours, the female flew to feed, apparently, twice for 3 hours. She climbed on the wing directly from the nest and flew by the shortest route to the swamp or its environs with vegetation of a different nature (reed grass thickets, low forbs, etc.). The duration of the morning feeding was 34-35 minutes. Feeding ended on average at 7 h 40 min. Returning, the female flew half way in the direction of the nest and sat down in the grass, but after 23 minutes in two steps it flew straight to the nest. Sometimes the whole path took the form of a zigzag, but more often the bird flew almost straight. From time to time she went on foot 10-20 m from the intermediate stops.

Judging by the timing of nesting and autumn sightings in Primorye and adjacent territories, the departure of the horned moorhen apparently falls on the end of September and October. On the Korean Peninsula, one bird was taken on 14 November (Austin 1948). The nesting of horned moorhen on the island of Bolshoi Pelis is to a certain extent accidental, since the island is small, and therefore many species nest here irregularly. At the same time, it is this find that indicates that in a small number the horned moorhen undoubtedly nests in the mainland regions of Primorye, with which the islands are closely connected. Apparently, somewhere at the latitude of Lake Khanka, the northern border of the species range passes, and even minor fluctuations in numbers affect the distribution of this bird in the region.

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