The color Purple.

     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. 

The Purple Gallinule, a member of the rail family is characterized by iridescent purple feathers, yellow legs with long toes

It swims like a duck but walks like a chicken through thick marsh grass and lily pads

Deftly balancing on bull rushes and swamp grass this omnivore eats Seeds, flowers, fruits, grains, and some invertebrates.

Juvenile is buffy tan instead of purple, with greenish back, dull bill, dull blue frontal shield, and yellow legs.

The Great Purple "Wallenda" Gallinule balancing act

Looks like another year is just about gone and a new one about Happy New year!

Often mistaken for a Purple Gallinule, the Purple Swamphen is also a member of the rail family.

This nonnative Purple Swamphen probably came from a Zoo escape in Miami..

Royal, Magical, and Mystery aptly describe this feeding with its long toes to grasp the reeds. 

Looks like the end of another season of Reflections on Broward..the Editor and I wish you a Happy New Year.


All photographs and materials copyrighted and possession of Harry D Selsor. All rights reserved.

Photos are avail for purchase framed or unframed.