The Australasian Swamphen (Porphyrio melanotus) – also written as Swamp Hen – is a wetlands bird native to Australia and southeast Asia. It belongs to the Rail family. It is related to rails, moorhens and coots.
The Australasian Swamphen is black with a purple throat and chest. It has a red frontal shield above its thick red beak. Its feet are pink-red with four long toes. Its toes are not webbed. Its eyes are orange-brown.
It grows to about 25-38 centimetres (10-15 inches) tall. It is the size of a chicken.
It is native to Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Australia and the Moluccas, Aru and Kai Islands. It prefers freshwater wetlands, such as swamps, marshes, streams, rivers, and floodplains. Its long toes enable it to walk on water lilies across still-water ponds.
The Australasian Swamphen eats plants, such as reeds and bulrushes, as well as frogs, snails, insects, and other small animals. It uses its long toes to grasp food.
It lives in small groups. It breeds among the reeds, and makes a nest of trampled reeds. The female lays 5-8 eggs, which hatch after about 21 days. Both male and female parents sit on the eggs until they are hatched, and look after the chicks. The chicks gain their feathers after 40-50 days.
Location of photographs:
Photographer: Martina Nicolls
Martina Nicolls: SIMILAR BUT DIFFERENT IN THE ANIMAL KINGDOM