Purple Swamphens: permanent residents
There are Purple swamphens, Porphyrio porphyrio, here all year around.
These waterbirds – they are part of the rail grouping- are found throughout Australia, and into New Zealand (where they are called Pukeko), Africa and other places. They live on the soft shoots of reeds and rushes, along with small animals such as snails and frogs. There have also been reports of the Purple Swamphen taking the eggs and young of ducks. Interestingly, we do not see many ducklings at the reservoir – there were three Pacific Black ducklings this season and they seemed to have survived but not many do.
These birds live in family groups, with more males than females, and the family group shares in the incubation and care of the young. Seven youngsters could be seen – and, in particular, heard – through October to December, with the adults and among the Tall Spike Rush in the reservoir. There is a very healthy presence of this plant – Eleocharis sphacelata– which provides protection for all the waterbirds – whether resident or visiting.
Three young birds seem to have either stayed or survived and are part of the family group, and can be seen feeding mostly in the early morning and evenings around the reservoir.
Sources and further information
Evans, O. (2010) Purple Swamphen, Australian Museum: http://australianmuseum.net.au/Purple-Swamphen
BirdLife International (2014) Species factsheet: Porphyrio porphyrio. http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/speciesfactsheet.php?id=2927
For video footage of young chicks feeding – very cute bundles of fluff on long stalked legs – this example is from NSW