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Western Swamphen - BirdForum Opus

Photo by lammie
Majorca, Spain, May 2014
Porphyrio porphyrio


  • Red bill and frontal shield
  • Large feet
  • Purple-blue plumage


Found in southwest Europe in Spain, Portugal, the Mediterranean coast of France, and southern Italy (Sardinia and Sicily), and northwestern Africa in Morocco, northern Algeria and Tunisia. Vagrant further north in France, and to Switzerland and England (one record, in 2016).


This is a monotypic species.
Formerly considered conspecific with African Swamphen, Grey-headed Swamphen, Black-backed Swamphen, Philippine Swamphen and Australasian Swamphen under the name Purple Swamphen.


Reed beds and wet areas with swamps, lake edges and damp pastures.


The birds live in pairs and larger communities.


The birds make a nest of woven reeds on floating debris or amongst reeds. More than one female will use the nest and they share incubating the eggs for 24 days. Each bird lays 3-6 speckled eggs and the nest can contain up to 12 eggs.


Diet includes tender shoots and vegetable-like matter, invertebrates (like snails), small fish, and eggs from nests and also eat ducklings. It is a good swimmer, especially for a bird without webbed feet.


  1. Not to be confused with Purple Gallinule, Porphyrio martinica.
  2. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2015. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2015, with updates to August 2015. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  3. Trewick, S. A. 1997. Flightlessness and phylogeny amongst endemic rails (Aves: Rallidae) of the New Zealand region. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences (352) 429-46.
  4. Sangster, G. 1998. Purple Swamp-hen is a complex of species. Dutch Birding (20) 13-22.
  5. Gill, F and D Donsker (Eds). 2015. IOC World Bird Names (version 5.3). Available at http://www.worldbirdnames.org/.
  6. Wikipedia
  7. Absolute Astronomy

Recommended Citation

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