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Pretty in Purple

Purple Gallinules are one of the shyer creatures of our wetlands, and to spy one is a fun and colorful event. Even if you’re a sly watcher and/or photographer, they’ll quickly flit into the dense marsh vegetation when they sense your presence…. It’s ironic, being as shy as they are, with such bold coloring. But it’s always a joy to spy these purple, blue, and green gems — especially so for me, as they’re all my favorite colors, wrapped up into one bright little bird.

These lovely creatures live in the freshwater marshes of the southeastern United States, as well as in Central America and the Caribbean — although they have turned up in the northern states and southern Canada, and even in parts of Europe and South Africa. There’s no mistaking this medium-sized rail, with its purple-blue plumage, green back, pale blue forehead, white undertail (of which I’ve caught more than one glimpse), bright red and yellow bill, and long yellow feet. The juveniles sport blander, brown colorations. The  gallinules’ huge legs make them awkward fliers, so short bursts of activity are their mode of transportation — or swimming like a duck if they’re not navigating the marsh with those dangling legs. They nest in floating constructs in the mashes (although I haven’t spotted many — they’re quite well hidden), laying 5-10 eggs.

The Purple Gallinule is omnivorous, eating the seeds, leaves, fruits, and grains of both aquatic and terrestrial plants; they also enjoy insects, frogs, snails, spiders, earthworms, fish, and even the eggs and young of other birds. When I see them in our wetlands, they’re often alone, nestled in the vegetation and cackling away — or being chased by other birds, most often by their sister species the Common Moorhen.

Purple Gallinule

Purple Gallinule — Nice Legs

Purple Gallinule

Purple Gallinule — White Undertail on Display

Purple Gallinule about to be chased into dense marsh vegetation by a defensive moorhen parent

Purple Gallinule successfully chased into dense marsh vegetation by a defensive moorhen parent

24 Comments Post a comment
  1. Reblogged this on Ashlee Craft's Blog and commented:
    Fantastic bird & great photographs!

    May 9, 2012
  2. I am in love with this sweet birdie!!

    May 9, 2012
    • Isn’t she adorable, totally amazing? Seeing them in the wetlands is so great… They’re like bright little gems. 🙂

      May 9, 2012
  3. These fabulous pics make me want to move to Florida! Stunning footage! Thanks for sharing this fabulous color. Much love, Jan

    May 9, 2012
    • Thanks so very much! The colors of our native critters are indeed truly amazing. Now if the weather were a bit more accommodating, err…. 🙂

      May 9, 2012
  4. everything in her is amazingly beautiful.

    May 9, 2012
    • I agree… She’s a complete gem! I stop everything when I spy them, dead in my tracks, hee!

      May 9, 2012
  5. Oooooo. I am so jealous. On one FL vacation, I went on a purposeful search for one of these birds. Never found one. What exquisite photos! Love it, love it. Such a beautiful creature!

    May 9, 2012
    • Really? That’s so funny! I’m glad you got to see them, albeit online! (But I’ll say HI for you next time I see them…) They really are amazingly bright little gems — and seriously shy creatures… Can be hard to spot, though. Even when I know where certain ones tend to gravitate, they tend to run and hide in the dense vegetation at the soonest sign of alarm (and believe me, it doesn’t take much), be it another bird or *me*!

      May 10, 2012
      • I hope to visit FL in June briefly. Perhaps I will try again to see one in the wild. One of my faves.

        May 11, 2012
      • I just visited a nearby preserve last night… And spied a few of these pretty shy guys, again. 🙂 AND just missed several of their babies by a few seconds, drats. I hope you do make it down, and are able to explore some of the more wild places!!

        May 11, 2012
  6. Oh my gosh, what a stunning bird. And your photographs are always so amazing.

    May 9, 2012
    • Thanks so very much for your kind words! It helps having such an easy, lovely canvas. Isn’t this little one amazing? I keep using the word “gem,” but that’s honestly what they look like (before they run and hide in the dense vegetation, anyways). 🙂

      May 10, 2012
  7. marialla #

    JUST SO VERRRRRY FANTASTIC PICTURES OF BIRDS. i THINK YOU ARE A PROFESSIONAL PHOTOGRAPHER!!!
    ps Thanks for all you encouragement!

    May 10, 2012
  8. Aw, you’re so kind!! I sure WISH I was a pro photog, alas, I’m definitely still learning. But it’s certainly a joy to learn, when I can photograph such lovely creatures! Thanks so very much — you have such a kind and gentle spirit. 🙂

    May 10, 2012
    • You just keep inspiring us. It is soul satisfying to visit your blog.

      May 11, 2012
      • That is truly a heartfelt compliment, an utmost acknowledgement that I don’t take for granted. Thanks so very much for your kind words; you’ve given me a smile through-and-through. ♥

        May 11, 2012
  9. Really great shots. Don’t have anything like that even here in colorful Hawaii

    May 11, 2012
    • Thanks so much! These guys can be sneaky at times, hanging out at the edges of dense marsh vegetation… Their brightness really does *pop*, even in our tropical setting. They’re such curious little critters.

      May 11, 2012
  10. Everyone should see a purple gallinule. So i gave you a Bean’s Pat on my blog today. Thanks for sharing your wonderful photos of this awesome bird.

    May 11, 2012
    • Thanks so very much!! ♥ I agree — and I always stop everything to stare at these lovely gems.

      May 11, 2012
      • I looked and looked for one on Texas’ Gulf Coast, where they are found. But I had to go to the Everglades to finally add one to my life list.

        May 11, 2012
      • Heh! That’s great… I always find them when I’m not looking. Last night, I spied one after giving up — on my way out of the preserve (just missing her babies!). You can attest to the fact that these colors are *real*, too. 🙂

        May 11, 2012

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