Moorhen Bird is a familiar medium sized rail, roughly between Coot and Water Rail in size. It is a dark slaty-grey on the neck and underparts, blacker on the head, and shows two striking white flashes on the undertail, separated centrally by black. The upperparts are dark olive-brown, and along the flanks it shows a prominent white stripe. The bill is red, tipped yellow, with a red-frontal shield, and the legs are green. Juveniles are paler and grey-brown.
Common and widespread, successfully adapting to almost any wetland habitat where dense cover exists in conjunction with freshwater, right down to the smallest dykes, ditches, ponds, slow-moving rivers and even in city parks. Moorhen Bird is often not skulking, and can frequently be seen walking and grazing in open areas such as fields, pastures and other dry land, always within easy reach of cover if alarmed or disturbed. It is quite arboreal, roosting in bushes and trees, and is equally at home flying, walking or swimming, which it does with a characteristic head-jerking movement.
The common sound indicating the presence of Moorhen Bird is a rather explosive "prrrruwkl", sometimes delivered in a two-syllable variant "kurr-rruck" or "kirr'rr'rk". It has a variety of similar abrupt and sometimes murmuring calls, such as a quiet "pook-pook-pook" etc., and a sharp "keh-kehl", "ik'ik'ik'ik" and "kittickl", delivered in alarm. It calls in flight, a sound that can be heard sometimes from wandering birds at night over urban areas, an "eggkh-eggkh-kehk", not dissimilar to the call of the Black-tailed Godwit.