Last winter, I was delighted to see two common gallinules gliding easily in the cool waters of Lake Tsala Apopka. These chicken-like birds nibbled floating plants, plucked seeds out of the water and grasped aquatic insects from the mudflats. Although to the novice, gallinules seem duck-like because they are very good swimmers, they have no webbed feet. Their long toes make it possible for them to walk on the soft mud flats of the lake. I often wondered if they were a male and female and if so would they be successful in raising young.
Earlier this summer, I saw what I assume was the same pair with at least three babies; they swam together, ate together and fled danger together. Somewhere out on the large lake, the adults built a basket-like nest lined with leaves and grasses among the reeds and other plants. I am sure they started with more than three eggs, but many of the hatchlings most likely succumbed to predators such as alligators, crows and other predators. As a matter of fact, there are now only two youngsters left.
Will these youngsters stay in the area, find mates and raise their own families? I will be sure to be looking for them through the winter and into next spring.