Common Gallinule
(Gallinula galeata)


Picture of bird
© Jukka Jantunen (
For additional photos and vocalizations, visit Dendroica. (Link opens in a new window.)

The Common Gallinule is a secretive marsh bird that is primarily found in southern Ontario and southwestern Quebec, and in smaller numbers in eastern New Brunswick and western Nova Scotia. Population estimates are not available for all of Canada, but data from Ontario suggest a significant population decline. Consequently, in 2012, the Canadian Wildlife Service – Ontario Region, in partnership with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, initiated a pilot banding project of Common Gallinules in Ontario. The species has been listed as a priority species in Ontario, with the objective of reversing its decline. There are no annual harvest estimates for Common Gallinules available in Canada, but the harvest is likely small. This species has been identified as a priority for conservation and/or stewardship in one or more Bird Conservation Region Strategies in Canada.


Main designations for the species
DesignationStatusDateSubspecies, population
IUCN (Global)Least concern2018 
Wild Species (Canada)Apparently secure2015 
Bird Conservation Region StrategyPriority Species2013 

Population status

Geographic area or populationPopulation change relative to ~1970ReliabilityStatus in relation to goal
CanadaLarge DecreaseHighBelow Acceptable Level

Population estimate

Geographic area or populationPopulation estimate
CanadaNot yet available

Distribution maps


Migration strategy, occurrence

Short-distance migrant

Responsibility for conservation

Geographic areaResponsibility based on % of global population
CanadaTo be determined

General nesting period in Canada

Nesting period starts between early May and late May and ends in late July, depending on the region. Before or after this period, the probability of an active nest is lower.

Conservation and management

In recent years, efforts have been made to improve the collection of harvest information and the monitoring of secretive marsh bird populations across North America, especially in Canada, where few data are available (Case and Sanders 2010; Seamans et al. 2013). Given the significant population decline of the Common Gallinule in Ontario over the last 20 years, the species is listed as a priority species in Ontario, with the associated objective of reversing its decline (Zeran et al. 2009). Consequently, in 2012, the Canadian Wildlife Service - Ontario Region, in partnership with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, initiated a pilot banding project of gallinules in Ontario. Between 2012 and 2017, 415 Common Gallinules were banded in Ontario during pre-hunting season duck banding. To date, 4 gallinules have been recaptured during banding operations, 1 has been reported by a hunter in Ontario, and 1 was found dead in Texas. Results from this pilot project show that annual productivity can be very high on local wetlands (S. Meyer, ECCC, pers. comm.). In 2014, feathers were collected to link up harvest (through hunter-returned wings) to natal origin through stable isotopes or elemental concentrations. These reference feathers have been analyzed; the collection of feathers from Canadian and American hunter-returned wings is ongoing.


Bird conservation region strategies

Environment and Climate Change Canada and partners have developed Bird Conservation Region Strategies in each of Canada’s Bird Conservation Regions (BCRs). In these strategies, selected species are identified as priorities for one or more of the following reasons:

  • conservation concerns (i.e., species vulnerable due to population size, distribution, population trend, abundance, or threats)
  • stewardship responsibilities (i.e., species that typify the regional avifauna or have a large proportion of their range or population in the sub-region)
  • management concerns (i.e., species that require ongoing management because of their socio-economic importance as game species, or because of their impacts on other species or habitats)
  • other concerns (i.e., species deemed a priority by regional experts for other reasons than those listed above or because they are listed as species at risk or concern at the provincial level)

Select any of the sub-regions below to view the BCR strategy for additional details.

BCRs, marine biogeographic units, and sub-regions in which the species is listed as a priority
RegionSub-region and priority type
Boreal Hardwood TransitionBoreal Hardwood Transition, sub-region and priority type: Ontario and Manitoba -- Conservation
Lower Great Lakes/St. Lawrence PlainLower Great Lakes/St. Lawrence Plain, sub-region and priority type: Ontario -- Conservation