Purple Swamphen in Western Australia

on 20th February 2009

Willis was at Herdsman Lake in Perth, Western Austrlia around December 2008 where he had his encounter with the Purple Swamphen (Porphyrio porphyrio).

“A birder once said for every bird that we encounter, there’s somewhere in this world where you can find it in abundance and can be approached with relative ease. At Herdsman Lake at this time of the year, it is the place for swamphen, as the whole place is swamped by them.

“It is so common that as I prone down on the grass, a few of them will just be within 2-3 metres from me going about their business.

“How they feed? They pick up grass-food from the ground with their leg, hold it up and eat them… similar to how we eat from our hand.”

This large rail lives essentially in wetlands, moving into open habitats to extend its foraging range. The bird is omnivorous but primarily a vegetarian. It takes the various plants that grow in and around wetlands. It uses its bill to cut, pull or dig out plants, then uses the foot to grasp and manipulate them.

The image at the top shows an adult manipulating vegetation with its foot with a juvenile by its side. The lower image shows an adult feeding a chick covered in black down.

Images by willis.

This post is a cooperative effort between and BESG to bring the study of bird behaviour through photography to a wider audience.

If you like this post please tap on the Like button at the left bottom of page. Any views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the authors/contributors, and are not endorsed by the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM, NUS) or its affiliated institutions. Readers are encouraged to use their discretion before making any decisions or judgements based on the information presented.

YC Wee

Dr Wee played a significant role as a green advocate in Singapore through his extensive involvement in various organizations and committees: as Secretary and Chairman for the Malayan Nature Society (Singapore Branch), and with the Nature Society (Singapore) as founding President (1978-1995). He has also served in the Nature Reserve Board (1987-1989), Nature Reserves Committee (1990-1996), National Council on the Environment/Singapore Environment Council (1992-1996), Work-Group on Nature Conservation (1992) and Inter-Varsity Council on the Environment (1995-1997). He is Patron of the Singapore Gardening Society and was appointed Honorary Museum Associate of the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM) in 2012. In 2005, Dr Wee started the Bird Ecology Study Group. With more than 6,000 entries, the website has become a valuable resource consulted by students, birdwatchers and researchers locally and internationally. The views and opinions expressed in this article are his own, and do not represent those of LKCNHM, the National University of Singapore or its affiliated institutions.

Other posts by YC Wee

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