Purple Gallinule Purple Gallinule
Purple Gallinule

Scientific Classification

Common Name
purple gallinule
Genus Species
Porphyrula (purple) martinica (Island of Martinique)

Fast Facts

The purple gallinule is a large, aquatic bird with short wings and tail; short, thick bill, red eyes and red bill with a yellow tip; a light blue frontal shield above the bill; yellow legs and feet; purple head, neck, breast and belly; a green back and upper wings
length: 26.25 cm (10.5 in.); wingspan: 52.5 cm (21 in.)
250 to 260 g (8.75 to 9.1 oz.)
Purple Gallinules are omnivores but typically eat more plants than animals. They will eat flowers, leaves, seeds and tubers. They may also prey on spiders, mollusks, beetles, bees, worms, snails, dragonflies, leeches, ants, grasshoppers, moth larvae, frogs, small fish, and eggs and nestlings of other birds.
18 days
Clutch Size
2 to 6 eggs
Sexual Maturity
Full adult eye color and face and neck coloration are not reached until 20 to 24 months old
Life Span
22 years
The Purple Gallinule has an extremely large range and may be found in the southeast U.S., Mexico and through Central and South America to Argentina. They can also be found in in Antigua, Aruba, Bahamas, Barbados, Cayman Islands, Cuba, Haiti, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, Saint Lucia, and the Falkland Islands.
Freshwater swamps, marshes, and ponds
Global: The total population is very large with at least 10,000 mature individuals. The population appears to be decreasing but is not severely fragmented.
IUCN: Least concern
CITES: Not listed
USFWS: Not listed

Fun Facts

These birds produce a cackling sound "kek, kek, kek" to communicate when flying.

Young birds crawl on bushes and out of the nest using tiny claws on their wing tips.

Their long toes make it possible to walk on lily pads – one of the few birds able to do so!

Although these birds seem like reluctant fliers, they are found around the world.

Ecology and Conservation

Purple gallinule populations in the U.S. declined by about 2.8% per year from 1966 to 2015, indicating a cumulative decline of 76% over that period, according to the North American Breeding Bird Survey.

These birds are vulnerable to declines in water quality including changes in water levels, pollution, and runoff. Loss of wetland habitat from draining or conversion to other uses is also a problem. Clearing of vegetation from wetlands to create more open water may make habitat less suitable for them.


Reader's Digest. Book of North American Birds. Reader's Digest Association, Inc. Pleasantville, New York, 1990.

Perrins, C.M. and Alex Middleton. The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Birds. New York: Prentice Hall Press, 1990.

Williams, John G. A Field Guide to the Birds of East and Central Africa. Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston, 1963


BirdLife International. 2016. Porphyrio martinicus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T22692827A93371309. http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-3.RLTS.T22692827A93371309.en. Downloaded on 21 November 2018.

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Purple_Gallinule/lifehistory. Downloaded on 21 November 2018.