American Purple Gallinule

Well, just like the Turaco, the American purple gallinule (Porphyrio martinicus), has an exceptional color combination of a red beak, blue body, green wings and yellow legs. They’re in the order Gruiformes, which means "crane-like", and within the order there are cranes, rails, and crakes. Thus, the purple gallinule is a rail species which places them into the family, Rallidae. The purple gallinule is a swamphen since it has the genus Porphyrio. The yellow-legged porphyria is found in the southeastern states of the United States during the breeding season. They are resident’s species in southern Florida, Gulf and Pacific coast of Mexico, parts of Central America, and Caribbean. This is medium size colorful bird reaches a length of 26-37cm in length while spanning 50-61cm across the wings. The captivating bird weighing is 141-305 g.  Moreover, the wingspan that helps in to glide up for short periods of time with its legs dangling under its body. They are able to fly when they are 5 to 7 weeks old. Young use tiny claws on their wing tips to crawl on bushes and out of the nest.

An adult purple gallinule has purple-blue plumage that will shine green and turquoise when in perfect lighting also have a pale blue shield on their forehead, which connects with the red and yellow bill. However, low light or darkness can dim the bright purple-blue plumage of the adult to make them look dusky or brownish. So, forehead shield color differentiates them from same species such as common gallinules. Juvenile birds are light brown with hints of green-bronze on the wings and black and white under-tail coverts. This species can found in freshwater marshes that have dense stands of vegetation. However, during the non-breeding season, they are found more inland in parts of Central America. They can also be found within South America during migration, and occasionally wander away as far north as Canada. This species has been recorded in Cape Province of South Africa, most of all of the birds where juveniles, so it is very unlikely that a breeding ground will be established there.

Further, purple gallinules have long legs with long toes that support them walk onto of the floating vegetation, by distributing their weight. They have an anisodactyl toe arrangement that also benefits them to cling to plant stems. The purple gallinule is not a very good flyer, but it is an excellent wader. It uses its long toes to distribute its weight, and it can even walk on lily pads. In the short distance fly, their legs hang down. 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. The bird nests are floating nest that are within the dense vegetation along shallow margins of lakes, rivers, and marshes shorelines. They normally lay 5 to 10 eggs, which are a buff or pale pink with brown and purple spots. Their nest and territories are defended by the monogamous pair and the juveniles remain in the territory to support care for siblings. Purple gallinules are omnivorous ground feeders.

The species diet consists of variety of plant and animal matter within their foods they consume seeds, leaves and fruits of both aquatic and terrestrial plants, insects, frogs, snails, earthworms, fish, and sometimes even the chicks of other birds, and when lucky swamp eels. Furthermore, the purple gallinules courtship occurs while they’re standing, and can be displayed by both sexes. Courtship occurs when the birds of a pair have been separated, and then wander close to one another. The courtship display entails the bird standing in a slightly bent forward position, with the neck outstretched, and holding the wings at an almost right angle to the body and bent at the wrist, so that the primaries are angled down. Purple Gallinule populations are probably decreasing in their range, due to freshwater wetland loss in the United States, and in South and Central America. The birds have been destroyed in rice fields by aerial spraying with pesticides. They also are preyed upon by alligators and turtles. However, this colorful species is not considered to be globally threatened.