Purple Gallinule (Porphyrio martinica)

Purple Gallinule

[order] GRUIFORMES | [family] Rallidae | [latin] Porphyrio martinica | [UK] Purple Gallinule | [FR] Taleve violacee | [DE] | [ES] Calamoncillo Americano | [NL] Amerikaanse Purperhoen


Genus Species subspecies Region Range
Porphyrio martinica NA, LA se USA to n Argentina


Physical charateristics

The adult is a very colourful bird with purple head, neck, breast and flanks, petrol green back and wings and all white undertail coverts. The bill is red with a yellow tip and a sky-blue frontal shield while the legs are yellow.

Listen to the sound of Purple Gallinule

[audio:http://www.aviflevoland.nl/sounddb/P/Purple Gallinule.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: cm wingspan max.: cm
size min.: 27 cm size max.: 28 cm
incubation min.: 22 days incubation max.: 25 days
fledging min.: 0 days fledging max.: 25 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 5  
      eggs max.: 10  


North America, Latin America : Southeast USA to North Argentina


It is found in wetlands, marshes, pools and along the coast and requires aquatic vegetation for breeding.


Female purple gallinules lay six to ten eggs in a nest of dead tree stems and leaves. The nest is usually placed on a floating tussock, in a clump of sawgrass or in a thicket. Both parents incubate the eggs and feed the chicks. Purple gallinules perform a “changing of the guard” ceremony while they are nesting. One partner will bring the other partner incubating the eggs a leaf. The bird on the nest adds the leaf to the nest before turning incubation duties over to the other gallinule. Purple Gallinule: Five to ten pink or buff eggs marked with brown are laid in a nest made of dead stems and leaves, and built low above the water among dense rushes. Incubation ranges from 22 to 25 days.

Feeding habits

Purple Gallinule: Diet consists of invertebrates, frogs, aquatic vegetation, seeds, and berries; forages while walking along the shoreline, wading, and swimming.


This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is very large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
The Purple Gallinule is distributed from the USA through Central America and the Caribbean into most of South America as far south as northern Argentina.
Purple Gallinule status Least Concern


North American birds migrate S over Gulf of Mexico, Oct-Nov, a few remaining to Dec. returning birds arrive in breeding areas in Georgia, Texas and Louisianan in mid-Apr. South American populations not migratory, except at S end of range, where birds move N into tropics for austral winter. Influx noted to coast of Brazil (Maranhao), Feb-Oct; present Rio Grande do Sul (SE Brazil) May-Sept. Well known for numerous instances of long distance vagrancy, both N and S of equator; migrants meeting cyclonic storms especially prone to being blown well beyond normal range. Recorded throughout much of USA, W to California, and into Canada, N to Labrador. Low pressure systems moving up coastal USA carry birds almost annually to Bermuda and New England, and sometimes beyond. Vagrant to S Greenland, Azores, Flores, Europe (Britain, Norway, Switzerland), and to islands in Atlantic and Pacific Oceans: South Georgia, Tristan da Cunha (frequent), Galapagos, Falkland Is, Ascension I and St Helena. Quite regular in South Africa (W Cape), Apr-Aug, when birds are migrating N from Argentina, Uruguay and S Brazil, whence African vagrants may originate; also recorded off Liberian coast. S vagrants nearly all immatures.

Distribution map

Purple Gallinule distribution range map

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