PURPLE GALLINULE

PURPLE GALLINULE (Porphyrio martinicus) – (See images below)
DESCRIPTION: The Purple Gallinule adult has a deep blue head, neck, throat and breast. Frontal shield is light blue. Back and wings are shiny blue-green. Tail is short and pointed, often raised, showing white rump. Bill is red at base with a yellow tip. Eyes are reddish brown. Legs and feet (toes) are long and yellow. Sexes are similar. Juvenile has brown plumage with less blue-green colors. Their legs and feet are brown. Bird length is around 35 cm (15 inches).
VOICE: https://www.xeno-canto.org/species/Porphyrio-martinicus
NAME: ‘Gallinule’ means ‘little hen’ in Latin. Also named ‘American Purple Gallinule’ to distinguish it from the Old World Purple Swamphen. Latin genus name ‘Porphyrio’ means ‘purple’, and Latin species name ‘martinicus’ means ‘of Martinique’, where the first specimen was found.
HABITAT: Wetlands such as swamps, marshes.
DIET: Omnivorous – plant material such as seeds, berries, leaves, and animals such as insects, fish, amphibians.
NESTING: Nest is a platform above water. Dummy nests are also often built. From six to nine beige eggs are laid, incubated by both parents. Chicks fed not only by both parents, but also by birds from previous generations.
DISTRIBUTION: Breeds in southeast USA. Year-round resident in Florida, the Caribbean, along the coasts of southern Mexico and most of the north east region of South America. Non-breeding populations are found in southern Mexico and the north part of Central America.
Distribution Map: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_purple_gallinule – /media/File:Porphyrio_martinica_map.svg
ON PEI: Does not breed on Prince Edward Island, sightings listed as ‘accidental’ so far, in the fall. See note below on bird vagrancy.
CONSERVATION: Population has gone through steady decline over last few decades. One factor is habitat degradation. Currently not at risk.
NOTES: In spite of not seeming to be a good flyer, this gallinule often wanders off its range to end up in places such as Europe and Africa.
Vagrancy: In biology this means an animal going way outside its normal range. For birds, this can happen when there are storms and they get blown off course. On other times, the bird simply wanders in a different direction than usual. Here’s an article about vagrancy in birds.
SIMILAR SPECIES: Common Gallinule, Western Swamphen
REFERENCES: http://www.nhptv.org/natureworks/purplegallinule.htm (New Hampshire PBS)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_purple_gallinule
https://txtbba.tamu.edu/species-accounts/purple-gallinule/ (Texas Breeding Bird Atlas)
https://www.audubon.org/field-guide/bird/purple-gallinule#
https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Purple_Gallinule/lifehistory
http://identify.whatbird.com/obj/496/overview/Purple_Gallinule.aspx

Purple Gallinule feeding on fireflag seed - Boynton Beach, FL - Apr. 2014 - photo by Gareth Rasberry
Purple Gallinule feeding on fireflag seed – Boynton Beach, FL – Apr. 2014 – photo by Gareth Rasberry
Purple Gallinule - Everglades National Park, FL - Dec. 2005 - photo by Wing-Chi Poon
Purple Gallinule – Everglades National Park, FL – Dec. 2005 – photo by Wing-Chi Poon
Purple Gallinule feeding on fireflag seed - Delray Beach, FL - May 2008 - photo by Tom Friedel
Purple Gallinule feeding on fireflag seed – Delray Beach, FL – May 2008 – photo by Tom Friedel

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