Purple Swamphen eats Kyllinga polyphylla flowering stalks

on 25th October 2014

The Purple Swamphen (Porphyrio porphyrio) [now Grey-headed Swamphen (P. poliocephalus)] is primarily a vegetarian, taking any and all parts of aquatic and semi-aquatic plants. At the same time it takes animal food that includes various invertebrates like small crabs, snails LINK, insects and their larvae, fish, frogs, lizards, snakes and nestlings.

Its large bill is used to dig and pull plants while its prominently long toes come in useful in gripping vegetation and transferring it to its mouth LINK.

The above video clip by Jeremiah Loei, documented at Singapore’s Tampines Eco Green, shows the Purple Swamphen pulling and eating the Greater Kyllinga (Kyllinga polyphylla, Family Cyperaceae) – previously known as Cyperus aromaticus. Note that in the video the swamphen rips the flowering stalks of the semi-aquatic sedge, eating only the tender lower bases.

Credit: Jeremiah Loei (image, video), YC Wee (text).

Robson, C., 2008. A field guide to the birds of South-east Asia. New Holland, London. 544 pp.

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

One Response

  1. Anybody know what happened to this bird? Heard that it was stranded in the canal (unable to fly up) and was later rescued by ACRES.

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