These rails are mostly brown and black with some white markings in plumage colour. Unlike many of the rails they are usually easy to see, feeding in open water margins rather than hidden in reedbeds. They have short rounded wings and are weak fliers, although usually capable of covering long distances. The common moorhen in particular migrates up to 2,000 km from some of its breeding areas in the colder parts of Siberia. Those that migrate do so at night. The Gough moorhen on the other hand is considered almost flightless it can only flutter some metres. As common in rails, there has been a marked tendency to evolve flightlessness in island populations. Moorhens can walk very well on their strong legs, and have long toes that are well adapted to soft uneven surfaces. These birds are omnivorous, consuming plant material, small rodents, amphibians and eggs. They are aggressively territorial during the breeding season, but are otherwise often found in sizeable flocks on the shallow vegetated lakes they prefer.