The color Purple is defined per Wikipedia as “as a deep, rich shade between crimson and violet, or, more broadly, as a range of hues of color between blue and red, or as a dark color that is a blend of red and blue. According to surveys In Europe and the U.S., purple is the color most often associated with royalty, magic, mystery and piety.” It is also the color we find on two very illusive birds that inhabit southern Florida.
On my recent workshop to South Florida with my friend Jack Rogers, I was blessed to be able to capture two unique birds sporting the color Purple. The first is called aptly, the Purple Gallinule, a member of the rail (Rallidae) family of birds. The Purple Gallinule per Cornell Lab of Ornithology is “A beautifully colored bird of southern and tropical wetlands, the Purple Gallinule can be see walking on top of floating vegetation or clambering through dense shrubs. Its extremely long toes help it walk on lily pads without sinking.” It is a tropical marshbird not often photographed in the United States but I saw several on this trip that provided a brief photo opportunity. It swims like a duck but walks on floating plants rather like a chicken.
While at Green Cay, Jack came upon another even more rarely seen bird, the Purple Swamphen. This bird is about twice the size of a Purple Gallinule and is also a member of the rail family. It is, however, a nonnative bird of southern Florida. Per the Fish and Wildlife Conservation description : “The birds in Broward County probably come from 2 aviculturists near Silver Lakes, but 8 birds did escape from the Miami Metro Zoo's "Wings of Asia" exhibit in 1992. Most of the adult swamphens at Pembroke Pines have grayish heads and are thought to be Porphyrio porphyrio poliocephalus, which is native to Turkey and the Caspian Sea east to southern Asia. There is also a blue-headed form seen at Pembroke Pines that represents another subspecies." It seems what we captured on the camera were fugitive birds of the color purple.
Purple indeed. These birds certainly live up to the definition of royalty, magic, and mystery (not sure about the piety one). What a way to end this year’s edition of Reflections on Broward. The Editor and I wish each of you and your families a safe, healthy, prosperous, and Blessed New Year in 2016.