The Purple Gallinule who swam away

IMG_9938I watched this striking Purple Gallinule preening in a low, marshy shrub one recent sunny morning. He stayed there for the longest time among the shadowy leaves, as I patiently waited for him to come out into the light.IMG_9952Finally, he began to clamber slowly, deliberately down the long leafy reeds. And then he did something I had never seen a Purple Gallinule do before. . . . IMG_9951 He simply slipped into the water and began to swim away!  Now, I’ve often watched Purple Gallinules climb high on narrow reeds, wade in shallow marshes, and stride confidently from one water lily leaf to another, expertly skimming across the floating vegetation. Our dense wetlands provide lots of opportunities for this kind of foraging and easy locomotion.IMG_9967 But, with their long skinny, chicken-legs, I couldn’t even imagine how this bird without webbed feet could actually get any traction, let alone swim! So I watched in delight as he swam all the way across the open water.IMG_9966 I was fascinated to learn later that this behavior is not at all unusual in Purple Gallinules, and I was happy to get a few shots of those shimmering feathers gliding out across the pond in the bright, late morning sun. IMG_9975

27 thoughts on “The Purple Gallinule who swam away

  1. Wonder photos; an avian gem BJ. It makes me want to get my paints and brushes out, and give this strikingly colorful hen a try. Would you mine if I use your second image as a reference photo?


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  2. And how lucky we all are for your patience in photographing this stunning gallinule. One bird with all those colors, amazing. I’ve seen them swimming before and never really thought about it, so I am grateful to you for pointing out how extraordinary it is for a bird with those skinny legs to be able to swim. Thanks so much BJ~~

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