Purple Gallinule Porphyrio martinica

Richard L. West and Gene K. Hess
Version: 1.0 — Published March 4, 2020
Text last updated January 1, 2002


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Photos from this Account


Medium-sized marsh bird with long yellow legs. Adults are an brilliant purple with a bright red-and-yellow bill.


Juveniles are pale brown with tints of bronze-green on the wings and back. Note white undertail coverts and long toes.


Immature birds are bronze above with purple feathers coming in on the chest. The bill and forehead shield are pale.


Flies with legs hanging down when going short distances. Note iridescent bronze, green, and blue back and red-and-yellow bill.


Adults have a blue shield on the forehead and a bright red-and-yellow bill. In good light their backs shine with green and turquoise colors. Can swim like a duck and walk on vegetation.


Their long toes help them grab onto stems of marsh plants and walk on top of floating vegetation.


Brilliant purple marsh bird with a red-and-yellow bill and long yellow legs. Walks on top of floating marsh vegetation, often pushing its head forward with each step.


Found in freshwater marshes with dense stands of floating vegetation.

Juvenile Purple Gallinule

; photographer William L. Newton

Purple Gallinule, adult perched

Note long toes, adaptations for walking on floating vegetation; photographer William L. Newton

Purple Gallinule, adult swimming

; photographer William L. Newton

Recommended Citation

West, R. L. and G. K. Hess (2020). Purple Gallinule (Porphyrio martinica), version 1.0. In Birds of the World (A. F. Poole and F. B. Gill, Editors). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bow.purgal2.01