Thursday, January 23, 2014

Purple Gallinule

While riding the Shark Valley Tram in Everglades National Park the ranger guide announced that there was an unusual bird, a gallinule, off to the side, in some trees. I was at the far back of the tram, on the opposite side. I stood up and scanned the trees edging a canal, trying to catch a glimpse of what she was referring to. Then I spotted one of the most goofy, unusual birds I've ever seen. 
Purple Gallinule
The tram started to roll shortly after the sighting. Fortunately, we were near the visitor center, so I walked back afterwards, but was unsuccessful in trying to catch another glimpse of this weird bird. 
The purple gallinule has body parts that look like they were arranged and put together by a child from a random collection of brightly colored plastic pieces, like a Mr. Potato Head from the psychedelic pieces edition.  The gangly yellow feet look like talons that were once attached to a hawk three or four times the size. The head looks like it may have come from a vulture with a touch of Star Wars space alien thrown in, with colors from a third world country flag. The tip of the bill is yellow, but a different shade of yellow than the feet, followed by bright red, followed by a skull cap of baby blue. These plastic looking pieces are connected to a surrounding head of deep purple with black eyes that make it look evil or goofy, depending upon the angle. The Mr. Potato Head body is purple at the head, neck and breast, transitioning into a darker hue of blue than the skull cap on the head, then a back and feathers with a mixture of forest green with some blue. 
Large talon like feet.
Yellow, right and light blue bill with purple head.
Forest green, blue and purple body.
The purple gallinule is also appropriately called the yellow-legged gallinule. However, it really should be called the yellow, green, blue, purple and red gallinule. It is a member of the rail family found in the southeastern U.S., Caribbean, Central America and northern South America.