Friday, May 3, 2019

Gray-Headed Swamphen

The gray-headed swamphen was considered a subspecies of the purple swamphen until it was elevated to its own species in 2015. It is found from the Middle East and Indian Subcontinent to Southern China and Northern Thailand. We saw it three times in Sri Lanka: (1) on our initial drive from Colombo to Anuradhapura; (2) in Yala National Park; and (3) in Bundala National Park. It was discovered in Southeastern Florida in 1996 as a result of unintended releases from private collections. Eradication efforts between 2006 and 2008 failed and it is now firmly entrenched in Southern Florida. 
The large toes help it to stand on water lilies. 
Aside from Wikipedia, these sources were helpful: here and here. It is a large purple gallinule with a red bill, forehead shield, legs and feet with long toes. When it flicks up its tail, it reveals white "underpants." The head, neck and body are violet or purple with some greenish turquoise on the back and upperwings. 
This photo gives a bit of the long toes, the beautiful feathers on the body and the red bill and shield. It also shows a gray patch on the neck and head which I assume gives it its name. 
This photo reveals the white "underpants" and gives a nice side head view, including a red eye. 
I've seen the American purple gallinule in Florida on two occasions, in 2014 and 2018. That bird, although similar, is more colorful. 

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