Bird of the week – Purple Swamphen Porphyrio porphyrio

The Purple Swamphen is a water bird. It can swim and fly, but prefers to walk around the edges of water, among reeds and on floating plants. Its call is a loud screech.

What the Purple Swamphen looks like

The Purple Swamphen is 44-48 cm in length. It is mostly dusky black above and purple below. It has white feathers on the underside of its tail. It has a bright red beak with a frontal shield, red eyes and pink-red legs and feet.

Where the Purple Swamphen lives

The Purple Swamphen lives in eastern, northern and far south-western Australia. It is found around swamps and lakes and in wet pastures.

What the Purple Swamphen eats

The Purple Swamphen eats the soft shoots of water plants, seeds, fruits, eggs and small animals. It often grips food with its toes.

How the Purple Swamphen breeds

The Purple Swamphen often breeds in small groups.

The adults mostly breed in spring and summer. A male holds water plants in his beak, bows and chuckles to attract a female. The adults mate.

Females in the group each lay three to six speckled eggs in one nest of trampled reeds in a swamp. They take turns to sit on the eggs to keep them warm.

The chicks hatch after three and a half to four weeks.

The chicks are taken to a nursery nest. They are fed by the older birds for about two weeks. They grow into breeding adults.

Swimming surprises


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