Bird Families

Moorhen, as well as a reed, water, or marsh hen, occasionally a bald - small, pigeon-sized, a waterfowl from the shepherd family, widely

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3. Reproduction

Moorhenes are monogamous, that is, there is one female per male, the pairs persist for several years in a row. The breeding season differs in sedentary and migratory populations - with permanent residence in the same territory, it can occur all year round, while during migration only in the warm season. In the case of migration, birds arrive to nesting sites rather late, when the ice has already completely melted, and also in pairs that have already formed, which, apparently, are formed even in wintering sites. The process of pairing is markedly different from other birds - during the mating season, it is not the males who seek the location of the female, but, on the contrary, the females compete among themselves for the right to own the male. For nesting, an overgrown reservoir is chosen, sometimes of a very small size - a forest lake, a swamp or a quiet river. At the same time, the couple avoids the neighborhood with other birds of the same or another species - in the case of an uninvited guest, moorhenes aggressively defend their nesting territory, demonstrating a threatening pose or occasionally even entering a fight. On a small reservoir, as a rule, only one pair nests, on a large one there may be several. The distance between adjacent nests can vary significantly depending on the habitat, however, it is not less than 25 m, and the actual nesting area is at least 8 m in diameter.

The nest is most often arranged on a small elevation in the middle of a reservoir or on its edge - on a hummock sticking out of the water, among the branches of a flooded tree, in thickets of reeds, reed mace or reeds, in bushes near the water. If there is dense vegetation on the shore, then the nest can be located on the ground. Less often, the nest can be arranged above the ground on the branches of shrubs or trees, in old magpie nests, or even on the roofs of houses in settlements. If the nest is located in the middle of the water, then the depth of the reservoir in this place does not exceed 1 m, but usually less than 60 cm.A homogeneous material is always used as a building material for the nest - dry stems and leaves of aquatic plants growing in the vicinity - reeds, rushes, reeds, cattail, sedge, reed grass, lotus, water lilies, etc. Both the male and the female are involved in the construction, however, unlike coots, moors have a division of responsibilities - the male is involved in the base, and the female is lining the tray. Also, in one of the American studies, it was noted that the male is much more involved in collecting building material than the female. In general, the nest is a well-rammed structure about 15 cm high and 21 - 25 cm in diameter, with a well-defined, smooth and deep tray.

There are usually two clutches of eggs per season - in Russia, the first clutch usually falls on the end of April-May, and the second in June-July. Each clutch consists of 3 - 15, usually 5 - 9 eggs, which are laid alternately at intervals of 24 hours. A large number of eggs in a clutch may indicate intra-nest parasitism. Eggs are 38 - 50 × 23 - 34 mm in size, with a light fawn, rusty-clayey or ocher background, small superficial brown specks and large violet-gray spots. If the first clutch is lost for any reason, the female is able to lay eggs again. The incubation period is 17 - 22 days, both parents incubate the clutch, but the female spends much more time in the nest. The hatched chicks are covered with long black down with an olive green tint. Down on the head is silvery and very rare. The chicks very quickly begin to swim, if necessary, dive and climb the branches of trees, but in the first one and a half to two weeks they are unable to independently obtain food and maintain a constant body temperature - in this they are helped by their parents. The chicks start on the wing at the age of 42 - 70 days, but long before this period they become completely independent at the time when the parents are busy with the second clutch. According to some reports, the chicks of the first brood participate in the incubation of repeated clutches and subsequently help to feed the younger chicks. Sexual maturity of young birds occurs the next year.

4. Social behavior

Moorhenes avoid communities of other birds, including those of the same species. Only during winter migration they can temporarily accumulate in one place up to 20, rarely up to 50 pairs, but even in this case they maintain a distance of 1 - 5 m. The rest of the time they meet in pairs or alone, carefully guard the feeding and nesting territory. If an alien appears on the border of the territory, they emit characteristic sharp monosyllabic cries of "kirrk" or quiet "tsik-cyc", and also go towards the guest. If a conflict arises between neighboring pairs or with other birds, moorhenes take on a threatening form, and in case of continued aggression they enter into a fight. The bird tilts its head low towards the enemy, raises the back of the body and spreads its tail, and when the conflict occurs on the water, it can also bend down completely and swiftly swim towards the enemy.

5. Nutrition

The moorhen diet is very diverse and includes both animal and plant foods. In search of food, she wanders in shallow water, turning over the leaves of floating plants like water lilies or duckweed, or swims in a pond, sometimes immersing her head in water. At depth, it occasionally dives, but almost does not swim under water in the horizontal direction. On land, it pecks seeds of coastal grasses or berries of trees and shrubs. Also catches low flying insects. It feeds on young shoots of aquatic or semi-aquatic herbaceous plants, algae, cereals, leaves and berries of shrubs, invertebrates, mollusks and amphibians tadpoles.

6. Predators

In Europe, common buzzards, black and gray crows, magpies, gray herons, marsh harriers, eagle owls, American minks, foxes are considered the most dangerous predators for moorhenes. In addition, rats, cats, dogs and mongooses can be limiting factors for birds in some regions of the world.

7. Hunting for moorhen

Moorhenes have no commercial value, but nevertheless they are the object of sports and amateur hunting, they belong to swamp-meadow game. In Russia, hunting for them opens only in the summer-autumn period August - November. Due to their secretive lifestyle and relatively low number of them, like other shepherd birds, they most often shoot along the way, usually when hunting ducks. The most effective hunting for reeds from the skradok during morning and evening flights, the preferred number of the shot used is No. 7. In accordance with Article 333.3 of the Tax Code of the Russian Federation, the extraction of reeds is carried out on the basis of personalized one-time licenses, the collection rate is 20 rubles per animal.

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