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Moorhens - Raising the Brood

For a day or so the newly hatched chicks are fed on the nest with a parent brooding them (keeping them warm) most of the time.

But they soon venture out onto the water. The rail family (moorhens, Coots etc.) feed their young rather than just leading them to where food is in the manner of ducks.

From now on there is an endless procession of the 'minor' inhabitants of the pond and it surroundings brought to fill the ever demanding beaks. 

Here you can see the morsal presented is some sort of damselfly. If it will fit in the beak they are offered it.

They get fed in the water, on the banks, on this 'island' (actually this is a pot grown set of 3 willows we installed to encourage nesting - with no  effect whatsoever - but it is one of their favourite 'sitting' places). The summer air is full of the 'peeps' of hungry chicks.

We love the 'wrap your head round the willow wand' style of the photo. 


Moorhen are very unusual in having the offspring of a previous brood help in raising the next. Here we have a juvenile feeding the next generation. They are not as good at it as their parents, and offer things like corn grains by mistake. The Chicks just know to refuse them and eventually get offered something suitably squishy.

Next - The New Generation