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Grey-headed Swamphen - BirdForum Opus

Nominate subspecies adult
Photo by Alok Tewari
Gurgaon Rural, Haryana, India, 31 March 2015
Porphyrio poliocephalus


  • Red bill and frontal shield
  • Greyish head
  • Large feet
  • Green back


Nominate subspecies juvenile
Photo by drkishore
Uppalapadu Bird Sanctuary, Guntur, India, 26 November 2013

From Turkey east to Iran, Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, southern China and Southern Myanmar, Thailand, Malay Peninsula and Indochina.
An introduced population is found in Southern Florida, USA


Formerly considered conspecific with African Swamphen, Western Swamphen, Black-backed Swamphen, Philippine Swamphen and Australasian Swamphen under the name Purple Swamphen.


Four subspecies recognized:


Reed beds and wet areas with high rainfall, swamps, lake edges and damp pastures.


The birds live in pairs and larger communities. They are strong swimmers.


Nominate subspecies
Photo by Dave 2x
Andaman Islands, India, February 2015

The birds make a nest of woven reeds on floating debris or amongst reeds. More than one female will use the nest and they share incubating the eggs for 24 days. Each bird lays 3-6 speckled eggs and the nest can contain up to 12 eggs.


Although they are mainly vegetarian, they are omnivorous. Their diet consists of vegetable matter such as roots, stems, shoot and leaves etc, from aquatic plants. They also eat snails, small fish bird eggs and ducklings.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2016. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2016, with updates to August 2016. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Trewick, S.A. 1997. "Flightlessness and phylogeny amongst endemic rails (Aves: Rallidae) of the New Zealand region." Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. (352) 429-46.
  3. Sangster, G. 1998. "Purple Swamp-hen is a complex of species." Dutch Birding (20) 13-22.
  4. Gill, F and D Donsker (Eds). 2015. IOC World Bird Names (version 5.3). Available at http://www.worldbirdnames.org/.
  5. Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive (retrieved November 2015)
  6. Wikipedia
  7. Absolute Astronomy

Recommended Citation

External Links

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