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7

Australasian (Purple) Swamphen

(Porphyrio melanotus)
Alternate name(s): "Purple Swamphen*", "Eastern Swamp-hen", "Bald Coot", "Purple Gallinule", "Purple Water-hen", "Black-backed Water-hen", "Macquarie-hen", "Redbill", "Purple Moorhen", "Purple Coot", "Puekeko*"
Aboriginal name(s): Race "melanotus": "booringal", "goolima";
Race "bellus": "kwilom", "koolema", "moolar"

Size: 44-48 cm

Similar species

Description     Classification     Distribution     Sightings     Photos     Breeding     Nest     Eggs     Behaviour     Food     Call/s

Physical description

Click here for a physical description

Taxonomy, classification

See Australasian (Purple) Swamphen at Wikipedia .

Click here for classification information

Range, habitat, finding this species

Click here for information on habitat and range

Sightings

Click here for sighting information

Photos

Race "melanotus"

Not the photos you want? Or are you after even better quality? Have a look here .

ADULT

Near-frontal portrait of an adult Australasian (Purple) Swamphen
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, April 2012]

Close-up near-lateral view of a Australasian (Purple) Swamphen (photo courtesy of A. Ross-Taylor)
[Carrara, Gold Coast, QLD, June 2006]

Lateral portrait of a Australasian (Purple) Swamphen
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, April 2012]

Near-frontal view of a Australasian (Purple) Swamphen
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, November 2010]

Close-up lateral view of an Australasian (Purple) Swamphen
[Dunn's Swamp, Wollemi NP, NSW, October 2016

Close-up view of a Australasian (Purple) Swamphen wading through shallow water
[Rockhampton, QLD, July 2009]

Australasian (Purple) Swamphen wading through shallow water
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, March 2009]

Australasian (Purple) Swamphen in reeds
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, December 2010]

Lateral view of a Australasian (Purple) Swamphen
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, September 2008]

Near-dorsal view of a Australasian (Purple) Swamphen
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, June 2011]

Australasian (Purple) Swamphen caught unawares...
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, October 2010]

Preening Australasian (Purple) Swamphen
[Dunn's Swamp, Wollemi NP, NSW, October 2016

IMMATURE/JUVENILE

This immature Australasian (Purple) Swamphen has adult plumage, but the shield and bill have not turned red yet (photo courtesy of A. Ross-Taylor)
[Carrara, Gold Coast, QLD, January 2015]

Near-dorsal view of an immature Australasian (Purple) Swamphen
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, November 2012]

Lateral view of a Australasian (Purple) Swamphen chick on its way somewhere... (photo courtesy of R. Plumtree)
[Ensay South, East Gippsland, VIC, November 2015]

Australasian (Purple) Swamphen chick racing across a lawn to get back into the cover of nearby reeds
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, April 2012]

Australasian (Purple) Swamphen with its chick
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, November 2010]

Here the Australasian (Purple) Swamphen chick is being fed
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, November 2010]

Two very young Australasian (Purple) Swamphen chicks in plain view (photo courtesy of B. Hensen)
[Eastlakes golf course, Sydney, NSW, October 2013]

Race "bellus"

Close-up frontal view of a Australasian (Purple) Swamphen (photo courtesy of J. Greaves)
[Lake Claremont, Perth, WA, January 2015]

Near-lateral view of a Australasian (Purple) Swamphen foraging on grassland around a suburban lake (photo courtesy of J. Greaves)
[Herdsman Lake, Perth, WA, December 2014]

Lateral view of a Australasian (Purple) Swamphen (photo courtesy of J. Greaves)
[Herdsman Lake, Perth, WA, December 2014]

Lateral view of a Australasian (Purple) Swamphen (photo courtesy of J. Greaves)
[Herdsman Lake, Perth, WA, December 2014]

Breeding information

Breeding season: All year Eggs: 3 - 8 Incubation period: 23 - 29 days Fledging age: ca. 42 days

Given the right conditions (and depending on geographical latitude), Australasian (Purple) Swamphens can breed any time of the year, often more than one brood per year.

Nest building: ? Incubation: Female & male Dependent care: Female & male

Australasian (Purple) Swamphens mating - the difficult part is to get ontop...
[Mother of Ducks Lagoon NR, Guyra, NSW, March 2012]

... the rest, once you are in balance, is easier
[Mother of Ducks Lagoon NR, Guyra, NSW, March 2012]

Nest

"bungobittah", "malunna" = nest [Aboriginal]

Type: Basket Material: Reeds, rushes, grass stems Height above ground: N/A

The nest is usually well hidden in a dense clump of reeds.

Australasian (Purple) Swamphen at its nest with at least two small chicks inside; a third is already wandering about on the lower left (photo courtesy of A. Ross-Taylor)
[Carrara, Gold Coast, QLD, November 2014]

Eggs

"boyanga", "booyanga", "derinya", "dirandil", "koomura", "ngampu", "nooluk", "pateena" = Egg; "dirundirri" = eggs [Aboriginal]; "gawu" = eggs [gamilaraay]

Size: 52 x 35 mm Colour: Mid-brown, with greyish dark-brown speckles Shape: Tapered oval

Behaviour

Social behaviour: Communal Mobility: Vagrant/dispersive Elementary unit: Flock

Australasian (Purple) Swamphes are primarily waders. When disturbed they will either vanish into dense foliage/reeds or fly away somewhat clumsily. They are not often seen swimming.

Australasian (Purple) Swamphen paddling away from the photographer
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, December 2010]

Australasian (Purple) Swamphen trying to attract the observer's attention and thereby lure the potentail threat away from its chicks (photo courtesy of A. Ross-Taylor)
[Carrara, Gold Coast, QLD, November 2014]

Although often seen squabbling, Australasian (Purple) Swamphens can live together in large numbers - see photo below.

Flock of Australasian (Purple) Swamphens in reeds in shallow water
[Wetlands of Capricorn Resort, Yeppoon, QLD, July 2009; see credits page for details]

About 50 Australasian (Purple) Swamphens foraging on a sports ground
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, September 2010]

Sometimes Australasian (Purple) Swamphens need to impress the competition; then the white patch feathers are diplayed conspicuously
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, May 2012]

Here a game of "catch me, if you can" Australasian (Purple) Swamphen-way

Australasian (Purple) Swamphen's typical tail flick - tail down (photo courtesy of A. Ross Taylor)
[Highland Park, Gold Coast, QLD, December 2013]

Australasian (Purple) Swamphen's typical tail flick - tail up (photo courtesy of A. Ross Taylor)
[Highland Park, Gold Coast, QLD, December 2013]

This Australasian (Purple) Swamphen was observed chasing away an Australian Raven that was also trying to scavenge food from tourists
[Dunn's Swamp, Wollemi NP, NSW, October 2016]

Food, Diet

Australasian (Purple) Swamphens feed mostly on young shoots of reeds and other aquatic plants; they are also known to feed on grassland, e.g. in urban parks, and also small animals.

Australasian (Purple) Swamphen with part of an aquatic plant in its bill
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, April 2012]

This photo provides evidence that Australasian (Purple) Swamphens also take grass seeds
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, November 2010]

Adult Australasian (Purple) Swamphen feeding its juvenile youngster the soft, white part of an aquatic plant, which it has specifically separated from the rest of the plant (photo courtesy of A. Ross-Taylor)
[Robina, Gold Coast, QLD, May 2015]

Call(s)/Song

For this species we have recorded the following call(s)/song. The interpretation of their meaning is our own; comments and suggestions for improvement are welcome.

purphen_20140716.mp3 melanotus
(NW NSW)
? (Adult & immature) © MD
purphen_20140722.mp3 melanotus
(NW NSW)
? © MD

These pages are largely based on our own observations and those of our contributors. The structure of these bird pages is explained HERE. For more salient facts on any bird species please refer to a field guide.

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