The Western Swamphen (Porphyrio porphyrio) – also written as Swamp Hen – is a wetlands bird native to the Iberian Peninsula, France, Sardinia, and northwest Africa. It belongs to the Rail family. It is related to rails, moorhens and coots.
The Western Swamphen has iridescent green and blue body feathers, with a paler blue face. 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 30-40 centimetres (12-16 inches) tall. It is the size of a chicken.
The Western Swamphenprefers freshwater wetlands with high rainfall, such as swamps, marshes, streams, rivers, and floodplains. Its long toes enable it to walk on water lilies across still-water ponds.
The Western 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 pairs or small groups. It breeds among the reeds and vegetation near water. Females lay 3-6 speckled eggs, which hatch after 23-27 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.
Photographer: Martina Nicolls
Martina Nicolls: SIMILAR BUT DIFFERENT IN THE ANIMAL KINGDOM