Wild Birds – Purple Swamphen – Melbourne Suburbs


Purple-Swamp Hen

Purple-Swamphen has a distinct red bill and forehead shield. Wildbirds

Purple Swamphen – a colorful  wild bird – Melbourne suburbs

In Melbourne again, watching the wild birds when weather permits. There are a variety of birds frequenting the waterway at Doreen, in Melbourne suburbs. The Black Swans were my favorite encounter, followed by the Purple Swamphen. The Purple Swamphen for a wild bird seems fairly used to people walking on the paths around the waterway, but very wary if you get too close. It is a very interesting bird to watch in its natural habitat.

The Purple Swamphen is distinctive with its rich purple-blue coloring, almost iridescent in the sunlight. It is slightly larger than the Dusky Moorhen. The Purple Swamphen has a distinct red bill and forehead shield, red eyes and long reddish legs, with unusual elongated toes. The long legs and elongated toes tend to trail behind in flight. They are good flyers and swimmers despite not having webbed toes.

Wild Birds - Purple Swamp Hen

Purple Swamphen has long reddish legs, with unusual elongated toes. Wild Birds

A warning signal from the Purple Swamphen?

A distinct characteristic action of the Purple Swamphen is that, as it walks it flicks it tail up and down revealing a white under-tail. I wondered if this wasn’t to distract unwanted, would be predators away from the birds nest area.  I was watching it closely, when suddenly, out of the reeds close by popped two young chicks, black and fluffy with red beaks. They were quickly ushered back under the overhanging vegetation by both parent birds, with the male moving away from the birds nest area and continually flicking its tail up and down, flashing  its white under-tail like a warning signal? Watching wild birds could become a fascinating hobby!

Wild Birds - Purple Swamp Hens

Purple Swamphen builds a birds nest among the reeds at breeding time.

Diet of the Purple Swamphen

The Purple Swamphen eats small fish, frogs and invertebrates, like snails. Clambering through the reeds with their long slender legs, they eat the tender shoots of the reeds and rushes and other aquatic vegetable matter.

Wilds Birds - Purple-Swamp-Hen-on the edge of the marshy pond

Wild Birds – Purple-Swamphen-has rich purple-blue coloring

Breeding habits of the Purple Swamphen

The Purple Swamphen is a seasonal breeders found in wet areas with high rainfall. This birds nest is set on large pads of floating debris among the trampled reeds, hidden by overhanging vegetation just above the level of the water in swamps, lagoons, lake edges and  marshy ponds.

Purple-Swamp-Hen-habitats marshy areas of swamps,lake edges and lagoons

Wild Birds-Purple-Swamphen inhabits marshy swamps and ponds.

The female can lay from 3-6 speckled eggs, pale yellow to reddish buff in color. The chicks when hatched have downy black feathers and a red beak. When the chicks are  being raised it becomes a family matter with both parents sharing in the incubation and care of the young.

The call of the Purple Swamphen is a noisy, raucous. high-pitched screech, rounding down to a soft “tuk tuk” when undisturbed.

Encouraging native birds to nest – Melbourne Suburbs

Like breeding, watching wild birds is a seasonal hobby. I find our feathered friends a joyful experience to watch and photograph. Watching our feathered friends also provides an opportunity to understand the habits of wild birds as they go about their daily lives. Doreen, in the Melbourne suburbs, has an extensive wetland area designed as a habitat to protect and encourage native birds to nest and rear their young. During my visits to Melbourne I have so far encountered 3 varieties of native ducks, grey heron, black swans,egret, and  the Eurasian Coot.

I’d like better photographs. Does anyone have advice on a good camera to allow close up shots of wildlife, bird, animals. So many times you can’t get close enough to get a decent photo. I’m talking digital, not something I have to carry extra lenses for,or anything too bulky. Any ideas or opinions?

Find out more about wild birds of Australia

The Slater Field Guide to Australian Birds: Second Edition

The Complete Guide to Finding the Birds of Australia



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