The Purple Swamphen is a common bird around Australian waterways. In New Zealand they are known as Pukeko.
An interesting fact about the Purple Swamphen is that it is a good swimmer, even though it doesn’t have webbed feet, and can actually fly quite well too. Despite both of those things, when I see them they are almost always wandering around on the grass or in the shallows.
Beneath their good looks the Purple Swamphen has a slightly darker side. They are known to steal and eggs, and the occasional chick of other species.
When it comes to their own families, all family members help to sit on the eggs, including their older brothers and sisters.
Like the Coots and Dusky Moorhens, the chicks have red heads at the early stages of life. They seems to lose them as they age, and it is finally replaced by the adult red crown.
The Purple Swamphens pictured here are from Herdsman Lake, Lake Monger and Lake Bungana. These are great places to watch water birds as they are reasonably used to people walking past and there is a good range of species. Watch out for snakes and swooping magies of course.
Purple Swamphen (Porphyrio porphyrio)