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Purple Gallinule

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Purple GallinulePorphyrio martinica
  • ORDER: Gruiformes
  • FAMILY: Rallidae

Basic Description

Lurking in the marshes of the extreme southeastern U.S. lives one of the most vividly colored birds in all of North America. Purple Gallinules combine cherry red, sky blue, moss green, aquamarine, indigo, violet, and school-bus yellow, a color palette that blends surprisingly well with tropical and subtropical wetlands. Watch for these long-legged, long-toed birds stepping gingerly across water lilies and other floating vegetation as they hunt frogs and invertebrates or pick at tubers.

More ID Info
image of range map for Purple Gallinule
Range map provided by Birds of the World
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Find This Bird

Look for Purple Gallinules in dense freshwater wetlands in the extreme southeastern U.S. and farther south—sites that have both emergent and submerged vegetation such as water lilies, lotus, water hyacinth, and hydrilla. They can be fairly easy to spot as they walk on floating vegetation. They’re also often present in rice fields, but can be harder to see among the tall stalks.

Other Names

  • Calamoncillo Americano (Spanish)
  • Talève violacée (French)

Backyard Tips

Within the species’ range, a small pond or water feature could attract a Purple Gallinule, particularly if it has floating vegetation such as water lilies.

  • Cool Facts