Order: Gruiformes

Family: Rallidae

Scientific name: Porphyrio porphyrio, Linnaeus, 1758

IUCN Red list status- Least Concern

Did you know?

  1. Purple Swamp Hen is also known as Purple Moore Hen.


Purple swamp hen is 38-50 cms long and weighs 700-850 gms. They have silky purple-blue plumage with metallic gloss on throat and breast, contrasting with the white under tail coverts. The very large bill is triangle shaped, with bulky and curved upper mandible, giving the bird a strange appearance and bill extends to the head top as a bright red shield. The slender toes show fine claws. Eyes are red. Both sexes are similar. Both sexes look similar but females are smaller than males. Juveniles are duller with greyish neck and under parts.


The Purple Swamp Hen is primarily vegetarian and feeds on stems and sap from aquatic plants. Sometimes it consumes dead fish also. They feed in a strange way, using its long toes. The food is taken with one leg, mainly the right leg. The food items are held between the toes and raised to the bill to swallow it. The forage time is mainly day and sometimes in night. It is done solitarily, pairs or in small-large groups.


The Purple Swamp Hen frequents the marshes with sedges, where flood and dryness alternate. They are also found in river sides, flooded paddy fields, coastal lagoons etc. In India it is distributed throughout the union. They are also seen in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Myanmar.

Reproductive Behaviour

The nesting season is mainly from June to September. Nest is a large pad of interwoven reed flags etc on a mass of floating debris or amongst matted reeds slightly above water level and will be will be concealed in dense reeds. The nest is built by both parents in shallow water, but sometimes in deeper water. Normally 3-7 eggs are laid. Incubation of 23-25 days and young ones care are shared by both parents.


They produce many sounds. Most familiar one is like the sound of a trumpet which is produced during flight

Related Species and Sub Species

  • African Swamp hen (Porphyrio madagascariensis).
  • Grey Headed Swamp hen (Porphyrio poliocephalus).
  • Black Headed Swamp hen (Porphyrio indicus).
  • Philippine Swamp hen (Porphyrio pulverulentus).

Migratory Behaviour

Non Migratory, Common Resident