A ubiquity of Purple swamphens

Purple Swamphens: permanent residents

Shows couple of Purple swamphens, Edward Hunter Heritage Bush Reserve

Purple Swamphens, waiting

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.

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shows maturing swamp hens, Edward Hunter Heritage Bush Reserve

A favourite perch


Shows Swamp hens & Little Cormorants, Edward Hunter Heritage Bush Reserve

Happy in company – Purple Swamphens with Little Cormorants

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



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