Purple Gallinule

Porphyrio martinica

A beautifully colored bird of southern and tropical wetlands, the Purple Gallinule can be see walking on top of floating vegetation or clambering through dense shrubs. Its extremely long toes help it walk on lily pads without sinking.

Interesting Information

The Purple Gallinule is essentially a tropical marshbird that just makes its way into the United States. But some go even farther afield. The Purple Gallinule, despite appearing to be an awkward flier, regularly turns up in northern states and southen Canada. It has even been found numerous times in Europe and South Africa.


Adult Description

  • Swims on surface of water like a duck and walks on floating plants rather like a chicken.

  • Dark purple head, neck, and underside.

  • Green back.

  • Red bill tipped with yellow.

  • Light blue forehead.

  • Bill triangular like a chicken's, not flat like a duck's.

  • Legs yellow.

  • Length

    • 14.6 - 14.2 in; 37 - 36 cm

  • Wingspan

    • 21.7 in; 55 cm

  • Weight

    • 7.3 - 10.2 oz; 208 - 288 g


Downy chick is black. Juvenile is buffy tan instead of purple, with greenish back, dull bill, dull blue frontal shield, and yellow legs.


Photo taken from: The Sibley Field Guide by David Allen Sibley

© 2003 Cornell Lab of Ornithology


Freshwater marshes with dense stands of floating vegetation.


Forages while walking along the shoreline, wading, and swimming.


Seeds, flowers, fruits, grains, ans some invertebrates.



Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
     Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Aves
Order: Gruiformes
Family: Rallidae
Genus: Porphyrio
Species: Porphyrio martinica

Similar Species

Common Moorhen lacks the purple and has a white stripe along its side. Juvenile moorhen has a white side stripe, is duskier overall, and lacks colorful wings and blue frontal shield.

Bird Sound

Cackling or clucking, and guttural notes.

Eggs look like this

Photo taken from: ARCTOS Collaborative Collection Management Solution