African Purple Swamphen

© Karl Svendsen


African purple swamphen (Porphyrio madagascariensis)

African Purple Swamphen Appearance

The African swamphen is around the size of a chicken, 43 cm. It has bright purple plumage, with a bronze-green/blue back and scapulars (shoulder feathers) the frontal shield and bill is red. The legs and feet are red, the feet are large for the size of the bird.

African Purple Swamphen Diet

The African purple swamphen is an omnivore and feeds mostly on plants. But it will feed on eggs and other birds chicks, fish and frogs. This swamphen will readily feed on carrion.

African Purple Swamphen Breeding

The African purple swamphen is monogamous and builds a bulky bowl-shaped nest placed over water or in reed beds. They lay around 4 eggs. Both parents take part in the Incubation for 24 days.

African Purple Swamphen Behaviour

The African purple swamphen is either solitary or found in small groups, keeping to dense vegetation. The swamphen is often heard and not seen.

African Purple Swamphen Distribution and Habitat

The African purple swamphen is found in freshwater and brackish ponds, marshes, swamps and slow flowing rivers. It is found in most of South Africa, except most of Limpopo, East and Western Cape. It is, however, found along the coastline in the Cape Provinces, from the West Coast heading east.