Porphyrio porphyrio

General description: 

It is mainly dusky black above, with a broad dark blue collar, and dark blue to purple below. As the Purple Swamphen walks, it flicks its tail up and down, revealing its white undertail. The bill is red and robust, and the legs and feet orange-red. For such a bulky bird, the Swamphen is an accomplished flier and will readily take to the air to escape danger. In flight, the long legs and elongated toes trail behind or hang underneath the body.

Conservation status: 

Not Threatened.

Diagnostic description: 

It is mainly dusky black above, with a broad dark blue collar, and dark blue to purple below. As the Purple Swamphen walks, it flicks its tail up and down, revealing its white undertail. The bill is red and robust, and the legs and feet orange-red. For such a bulky bird, the Swamphen is an accomplished flier and will readily take to the air to escape danger. In flight, the long legs and elongated toes trail behind or hang underneath the body.

Behaviour: 

Size: 

44 - 48 cm.

Phylogeny: 

Taxonomy:

    Fulica Porphyrio Linnaeus, 1758, Asia, America (= lands bordering the western Mediterranean Sea). Races madagascariensis, pulverulentus and poliocephalus (incorporating all remaining races except nominate) have at times been considered separate species; melanotus and bellus too might be separate species. Numerous other races described. Thirteen subspecies recognized. (source: Handbook of the Birds of World)
Distribution: 

Subspecies and Distribution:

    * porphyrio (Linnaeus, 1758) - E & S Spain, S France and Sardinia to Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia. * madagascariensis (Latham, 1801) - Egypt, sub-Saharan Africa and Madagascar. * caspius Hartert, 1917 - Caspian Sea, NW Iran and Turkey. * seistanicus Zarudny & Härms, 1911 - Iraq and S Iran to Afghanistan, Pakistan and NW India. * poliocephalus (Latham, 1801) - India and Sri Lanka through Bangladesh, Andamans, Nicobars and N Myanmar to SC China (Yunnan) and N Thailand. * viridis Begbie, 1834 - S Myanmar, S Thailand and Peninsular Malaysia through Indochina to S China. * indicus Horsfield, 1821 - Greater Sundas to Bali and Sulawesi. * pulverulentus Temminck, 1826 - Philippines. * pelewensis Hartlaub & Finsch, 1872 - Palau Is. * melanopterus Bonaparte, 1856 - Moluccas and Lesser Sundas to New Guinea. * bellus Gould, 1841 - SW Australia. * melanotus Temminck, 1820 - N & E Australia and Tasmania to New Zealand, Kermadec Is and Chatham Is; migrates to New Guinea. * samoensis Peale, 1848 - Admiralty Is S to New Caledonia and E to Samoa.
Habitat: 

It is found around freshwater swamps, streams and marshes. Voice: A loud, penetrating 'kee-ow', as well as some softer clucking between members of a group while feeding.

Trophic strategy: 

The diet of the Purple Swamphen includes the soft shoots of reeds and rushes and small animals, such as frogs and snails. However, it is a reputed egg stealer and will also eat ducklings when it can catch them. The Purple Swamphen uses its long toes to grasp food while eating.

Reproduction: 

Purple Swamphens are generally found in small groups and studies have shown that these consist of more males than females. More than one male will mate with a single female. All family members, and occasionally the young from a previous brood, share in incubation and care of the young. The nest consists of a platform of trampled reeds with the surrounding vegetation sometimes being used to form a shelter. Often two broods will be raised in a year.