Black-tailed Native-hen

The black-tailed native hen (Gallinula ventralis) is a dark green-brown, fleet-footed moorhen with bright red legs and long toes, and with a large, cocked black bantam-like tail. A few white streaks are seen on the flanks, and the upper bill is bright pea-green with the lower mandible orange-red.

This is a bird of the arid inland regions, highly nomadic, and adjusts its breeding and movements to the erratic climate of the inland, following rain and floods. It retreats to wetland refuges until rain allows it back inland. It may then be seen in huge flocks, feeding on ephemeral vegetation on which it depends for food.

It breeds irregularly after rain (mainly June to December), the nest being a cup of plant matter on the grounds, near water and usually under cover or with a woven roof of reeds. Five or more eggs. It is normally a very silent bird but has high pitched alarm calls. The Black-tailed native-hen flies strongly with legs trailing, and can travel very long distances. It swims readily, and can run and climb at great speeds.

Since 2009, there have been regular sightings of a lone bird. However, in Oct 2013 a pair was seen and since then up to two pairs have been seen. They are often noticed in the paddock south of the Kitchener Inlet, and when they feel threatened they will fly back to the reeds at Barti Point. They are also often seen feeding at Koala Point and have occasionally been seen at Cross Road Ponds.