Any of several species of marsh birds (family Rallidae) found in temperate, tropical, and subtropical regions worldwide. Gallinules are about 12–18 in. (30–45 cm) long, with a compressed body like those of the related rails and coots. They have a fleshy plate on the forehead and long, thin toes that enable them to run on floating vegetation. Many species have brightly coloured areas of plumage or skin. They are noisy, inquisitive, and less secretive than most rails. Many are migratory. They build a bulky nest of rushes on or near the water. See alsomoorhen.