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Purple Gallinule

Porphyrio porphyrio

Purple Gallinule

Purple Gallinule

Quick Facts


Scientific name:

Porphyrio porphyrio


Rails, crakes and coots



45cm to 50cm


90cm to 100cm


850g to 1.05kg

A further excellent example of Mallorcan conservation efforts is the recent introduction of this bird from the mainland. The best site to see them by far is at Albufera where they can be viewed from the bridge over the canal next to the Visitors Centre; sometimes you have to be a little patient though!

Technical description

Purple Gallinule (Porphyrio porphyrio) is in the family Rallidae.

The Purple Gallinule is more commonly referred to as the Purple Swamphen or simply Swamphen and is easily recognisable by its size (similar to a chicken), large feet, red bill and bright plumage. The top part of the beak extends over the forehead of the bird and forms a front plate or shield; this is often a characteristic of many swamphens, coots and moorhens. In and around the island of Mallorca this relatively common bird is predominantly a purple/ blue colour whilst its nearby cousins on the African continent tend to have green coloured backs.

Although the swamphen has claw-like feet which are not webbed it can be extremely proficient whilst swimming in water for a bird without webbed feet and although its size and shape would suggest otherwise, it is also able to fly although it often gives a clumsy appearance whilst doing so. It can be quite a noisy bird making either booming or bleating sounds which tend to be more pronounced during the breeding season. It prefers to inhabit waterside/lake environments where it nests in reed beds and normally produces 3 to 6 eggs which are a pale yellow stone to reddish buff colour and are spotted with reddish-brown.

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Other birds in the Rails, crakes and coots family

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