Here’s this week’s faux duck installment from biologist John Avise. The weekly series features birds that many people think are ducks, but they’re not. Your job is to guess the species. After you try, click “read more” at the bottom to go below the fold for the ID, some faux duck facts (NOT faux news), and a range map.
With Common Gallinule to the left:
Click on “read more” to see the ID, Fun Faux Duck Facts, and a range map.
The faux duck: Purple Gallinule (Porphyrio martinica)
This is an inhabitant of densely vegetated freshwater marshes of the Americas. Bright yellow legs, a bright red-and-yellow bill, a pale blue shield on the forehead, a snowy-white vent area, and a brilliant purple plumage (in good light) all help to identify this absolutely gorgeous species in the Rallidae family. Like its cousin the Common Gallinule (see last week’s post), this species has long un-webbed toes that help it clamber about on reeds and other aquatic vegetation. These birds seldom swim. Juveniles share the body form of the adult but are much duller in coloration. There is no sexual dimorphism and pairs tend to be socially monogamous. Nests are in floating shoreline vegetation with each nest containing about 5-10 eggs. Outside of its normal range, extreme vagrants of this species have shown up at highly unexpected places such as Tierra del Fuego, Labrador, Iceland, and California. A Eurasian counterpart of this species is the Purple Swamphen (Porphyrio porphyrio), which looks very similar to the American version.
Here’s a range map from the Cornell bird site: