American purple gallinule

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Purple gallinule
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Gruiformes
Family: Rallidae
Genus: Porphyrio
Species: P. martinicus
Binomial name
Porphyrio martinicus
Linnaeus, 1766

Porphyrio martinica

The purple gallinule (Porphyrio martinicus, sometimes said as martinica) is a swamphen in the rail family, Rallidae. Also known locally as the yellow-legged gallinule.[2] The specific name martinica denotes "of Martinique".[3]


This is a medium-sized rail, measuring 26–37 cm (10–15 in) in length, spanning 50–61 cm (20–24 in) across the wings and weighing 141–305 g (5.0–10.8 oz).[4][5] Males, averaging 257 g (9.1 oz) in mass, are slightly larger than females, at 215 g (7.6 oz) on average.[6] The adult purple gallinule has big yellow feet, purple-blue plumage with a green back, and red and yellow bill. It has a pale blue forehead shield and white undertail. Darkness or low light can dim the bright purple-blue plumage of the adult to make them look dusky or brownish, although the forehead shield color differentiates them from similar species such as common gallinules.

Juveniles are brown overall with a brownish olive back.[7] These gallinules will fly short distances with dangling legs.

Distribution and habitat[edit]

The species inhabits warm swamps and marshes in the southeastern states of the United States and the tropical regions of Central America, the Caribbean and northern South America. This species is resident in southern Florida and the tropics, but most North American birds are migratory, wintering south to Argentina.

The species has the greatest pattern of vagrancy amongst rails, with individuals recorded as far west as California and the Galápagos Islands, as far north as Iceland and Labrador, as far south as Tierra del Fuego, and as far east as Great Britain, Portugal and Cape Verde.[citation needed]


The nest is a floating structure in a marsh. Five to ten eggs, buff with brown spots, are laid. American purple gallinules are omnivorous; their diet includes a wide variety of plant and animal matter, including seeds, leaves and fruits of both aquatic and terrestrial plants, as well as insects, frogs, snails, spiders, earthworms and fish. They have also been known to eat the eggs and young of other birds.[citation needed]



  1. ^ BirdLife International (2012). "Porphyrio martinicus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013. 
  2. ^ "Purple Gallinule (Porphyrio martinicus) – BirdLife species factsheet". 
  3. ^ Jobling, James A (2010). The Helm Dictionary of Scientific Bird Names. London: Christopher Helm. pp. 242, 314. ISBN 978-1-4081-2501-4. 
  4. ^ "Toronto Zoo – Purple gallinule". 
  5. ^ "Purple Gallinule". 
  6. ^ CRC Handbook of Avian Body Masses by John B. Dunning Jr. (Editor). CRC Press (1992), ISBN 978-0-8493-4258-5.
  7. ^ Dunn, John; Alderfer, Jonathan (2006). Field Guide to the Birds of North America (Fifth ed.). National Geographic. p. 552. ISBN 1-4262-0071-4. 
  • Kaufman, Kenn; Lives of North American Birds. Houghton Mifflin Company, New York, NY (1996).

External links[edit]