Lord Howe swamphen

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Lord Howe swamphen
Illustration probably based on a live specimen by Arthur Phillip, 1789

Extinct  (early 19th century) (IUCN 3.1)[1]
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Gruiformes
Family: Rallidae
Genus: Porphyrio
Species: P. albus
Binomial name
Porphyrio albus
(Shaw, 1790)
Lord Howe Island.PNG
Location of Lord Howe Island

The Lord Howe swamphen or white gallinule (Porphyrio albus) is an extinct species of rail that was endemic to Lord Howe Island, Australia.[1]


Illustration of several specimens, May 1788

This bird was first described by John White in his Journal of a Voyage to New South Wales (1790),[2] which also contained an illustration. It was not uncommon when the bird was first described, but was soon hunted to extinction by whalers and sailors.

There are two skins of the bird in existence, one in the collection of the World Museum in Liverpool and the other in the Naturhistorisches Museum Wien in Vienna. There are also several paintings, and some subfossil bones.


Restoration by John Gerrard Keulemans

It was similar to the purple swamphen, but with shorter and more robust legs and toes. Its plumage was white, sometimes with a few blue feathers, and it was probably flightless, like its other close relative the takahe. Similar, entirely blue birds were also described, but it is not clear if they belong to this species or are simply purple swamphens (which can also be found on the island). The feathers on the two extant skins are white.

See also[edit]