Thursday, February 25, 2021

Purple feathers and green goggles

At nearby Chapel Trail Nature Preserve in Pembroke Pines, two purple relatives exist side by side. One is a newcomer, appearing first in the wild after escaping from a local private bird collection in 1996. The Gray-headed Swamphen (Porphyrio Poliocephalus) is related to the gallinules, coots and rails (Rallidae family). Native to the Middle East through India and southern Asia into northern Thailand, the species has adapted to Florida's wetland habitats and has spread widely in the State. 

At first considered to be a threat to native birds, in 2006 it was subjected to an eradication campaign in which over 3,000 were gunned down by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. This futile attempt to exterminate the species did not stop their expanding population.

The colorful Swamphen uses its prehensile toes to dig up the roots and emerging shoots of water plants such as this Spike-rush:

Gray-headed Swamphen in flight:

Gray-headed Swamphens were first considered to be a subspecies of the Purple Swamphen before being reclassified as a separate species. Large and muscular, they are often said to look like a "Purple Gallinule on steroids." . 

A Purple Gallinule (Porphyrio martinica) was foraging for one of its favorite foods, the buds and seeds of Spatterdock (AKA Cow Lily or Yellow Pond Lily). Its long toes allow it to "walk on water" over the bed of lily pads:

Also at Chapel Trail, another Rallidae family member, American Coot...

...and Common Gallinule:

A male Anhinga was roosting on an island out in the wet praitie:

During breeding season the bare skin around the eyes of the male turns bright green. Lady Anhingas must find this irresistible:

On the adjacent pasture, a Cattle Egret is chummy with a Longhorn calf:

The boardwalk at Chapel Trail preserve:

Sunrise at our corner on February 23:

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Linking to:

Fences Around the World

Nature Thursday

Skywatch Friday

Weekend Reflections

Saturday's Critters


Camera Critters

All Seasons

Wordless Wednesday (on Tuesday)

Natasha Musing

Our World Tuesday


Please visit the links to all these posts to see some excellent photos on display


  1. Creatures that are not native to a country can become a huge menace. The Grey squirrel has almost eradicated the native Red Squirrel in the UK and there are numerous other cases world wide. The Vespa velutina is in France and is a huge problem. Fabulous photos though. Love the egret with the calf.
    Hope al is well, Diane

  2. Hello Kenneth
    beautiful bird pictures, sensational colors
    Greetings Frank

  3. Dealing with invasive species is such a tough issue. A pretty bird, however.

  4. Beautiful birds. I remember moving to the gulf coast and saw the cattle egrets for the first time. I thought they were the most exotic thing.

  5. Fascinating history on the imported bird. So many foreign species abound in Florida. I don't mind the bird but I hate that pythons roam the Glades and that other imports are destroying the eco system.

  6. I guess the Swamphen is here to stay.
    We used to sell Spatterdock in our pond department at a local nursery.
    Lobe the green skin around the eyes on the Anhinga..I think he overdid his eye shadow.
    Beautiful sunrise..You're lucky to see that every day!!

  7. Don't like human behaviour of importing and exterminating for no wrong of wild. This should stop. Let them reside in true habitat. And I love the cattle egrets too! They look comical when around cattle :-)

  8. Great again, your post !
    Thank you very much and
    best regards

  9. Good afternoon, Mr. Kenneth.
    Beautiful pictures, with beautiful animals.
    I really like the photo of the calf. He has a tender look.
    Congratulations and good weekend.

  10. The Swamphen and Purple Gallinule are certainly colorful, even if not the prettiest bird species. But I think both are beautiful, Kenneth, and certainly ones I have never seen before. The calf and the cattle egret looked very companionable.

  11. Breathtaking photos.
    Have a wonderful weekend.

  12. Hello,
    I love both the Gray-headed Swamphen and the Purple Gallinule. Great captures of all the birds, The cute calf with the cattle egret is a favorite, I also love the Anghinga and Coot. Beautiful sky and sunrise! Thank you for linking up and sharing your post. Take care, enjoy your weekend! PS, thank you for the the comment and visit!

  13. tried to link up with last week's post.

    The new linking tool is here

  14. Beautiful bird photos. I take it the number of swamp hens must have bounced back after their eradication? I love the little egret with the cow. Great photo!

  15. Beautiful pictures. Very informative post.

  16. How beautiful these all are. They can be a challenge when they hide among the brush but you always get the best photos!

  17. I can understand the Lady Anhingas find him irresistible! He is so stylish it almost is unbelievable!

  18. Amazing shots! Of all of these birds I think I've only seen an egret.

  19. Very nice. Our Purple Swamphens were once considered to be a subspecies, but have been 'up-graded' to full species status. Oh the joys of taxonomy!

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

  20. The swamp hen is fascinating - such a distinctive appearance!
    Thanks for sharing at

  21. Love the calf talking to the egret - such a cute capture. My, the grey headed swamphen and the purple Callinula looks so much like each other, they could be brother and sister. They both show beautiful colors.With a nod to the palms, Florida could be my state:) Thank you much Ken for sharing all of these with All Seasons. Your comment I replied to on my blog. Have a sweet week, Jesh

  22. Stunning capture of adorable birds, It would be my pleasure if you join my link up party related to gardening, nature and birds here at

  23. Wish I was walking the Boardwalk right now.... looks a fab place to birdwatch. Impressive images if the Swamphen and Gallinule.

  24. Oh those colorful shine on the swamphen's feathers! They look so regal and cute at the same time! Their shape does resemble our native hens here in the Philippines, the younger ones.

  25. Great colors1 I love the calf and egret!

  26. We have swamphens that we call pukekos that wandered over from Australia. A pest here, too!
    I do love those green eyes :)

    I'm glad to see you this week at 'My Corner of the World'!

  27. What a wonderful place. We will be in Florida next week. I have this marked on my map.


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