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BIRD FACTS: PURPLE GALLINULE

The Purple Swamphen (Porphyrio porphyrio), also known as the African Purple Swamphen, Purple Moorhen, Purple Gallinule or Purple Coot, is a large bird in the family Rallidae (rails).

This s a large colourful bird with heavy red legs and almost comically large red feet. The crown, back of neck, sids, lower chest, belly and underparts are a bright bluish purple, with sides of face, throat and chest iridiscent greenish turquoise. The back is green and undertail coverts are white. The red bill and frontal shield are very conspicious. Eyes red. The species has a very loud explosive call described as a “raucous high-pitched screech, with a subdued musical tuk-tuk”. It is particularly noisy during the breeding season. It is a good swimmer, especially for a bird without webbed feet.

The Purple Swamphen breeds in warm reed beds. The male has an elaborate courtship display, holding water weeds in his bill and bowing to the female with loud chuckles.

Pairs nest in a large pad of interwoven reed flags, etc, on a mass of floating debris or amongst matted reeds slightly above water level in swamps, clumps of rushes in paddocks or long unkempt grass. Multiple females may lay in the one nest and share the incubation duties. Each bird can lay 3–6 speckled eggs, pale yellowish stone to reddish buff, blotched and spotted with reddish brown. A communal nest may contain up to 12 eggs. The incubation period is 24 days.

The Purple Swamphen prefers wet areas with high rainfall, swamps, lake edges and damp pastures. It clambers through the reeds, eating the tender shoots and vegetable-like matter. They have been known to eat eggs, ducklings, small fish and invertebrates such as snails. They will often use one foot to bring food to their mouth rather than eat it on the ground.

Spotted recently on the west side of Park Island. These birds are very shy and quite rare at Zandvlei.

Information from: en.Wikipedia.org



BIRD FACTS: AFRICAN SPOONBILL

The African Spoonbill (Platalea alba) is a wading bird of the ibis and spoonbill family Threskiornithidae. This species is a widespread resident across Africa and Madagascar.

The African Spoonbill occurs in marshy wetlands with some open shallow water, nesting in colonies in trees or reedbeds. Usually two to four eggs are laid.

The African Spoonbill is almost unmistakable through most of its range. The breeding bird is all white except for its red legs and face and long grey spatulate bill. It has no crest, unlike the Common Spoonbill. Immature birds lack the red face and have a yellow bill. Unlike herons, spoonbills fly with their necks outstretched.

This spoonbill feeds on various fish, molluscs and amphibians. They probe in mud sweeping their bill from side to side in search of food.

The African Spoonbill is one of the species to which the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA) applies.

Information from: en.Wikipedia.org



BIRD FACTS: MALLARD DUCKS

The Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos), probably the best-known and most recognizable of all ducks, is a dabbling duck which breeds throughout the temperate and sub-tropical areas of the Northern Hemisphere.

Mallard ducks are listed as an alien invader species in the South African National Scientific Programs Report No 113 (1985).

The fact that the Mallard duck is an aggressive breeder, hybridising with numerous other warerfowl species worldwide, is well documented. It crossbreeds easily with our indigenous ducks, in particular the yellow-billed duck and the off-spring is fertile. As a result, the survival of the yellow-billed duck, a protected species, is threatened.

The Mallard is 56–65 cm long, has a wingspan of 81–98 cm, and weighs 0.9–1.2kg. The breeding male is unmistakable, with a green head, black rear end and a yellowish orange (can also contain some red) bill tipped with black (as opposed to the dark brown bill in females). The female Mallard is light brown, like most female dabbling ducks. However, both the female and male Mallards have distinct purple speculum edged with white, prominent in flight or at rest.

A noisy species, the male has a nasal call, the female has a “quack” stereotypically associated with ducks.

The Mallard inhabits most wetlands, including parks, small ponds and rivers, and usually feeds by dabbling for plant food or grazing.

Mallard ducks have been domesticated and occur in a wide variety of colours including white, black, green and brown.

Information from: en.Wikipedia.org



BIRD FACTS: PELICAN

The Great White Pelican, Pelecanus onocrotalus also known as the Eastern White Pelican or White Pelican is a bird in the pelican family. It breeds from southeastern Europe through Asia and in Africa in swamps and shallow lakes. The tree nest is a crude heap of vegetation.

This is a large pelican, at a mass of 10 kg, 160 cm long and with a 280 cm wingspan. Males are larger than females, and have a long beak that grows in a downwards arc, as opposed to the shorter, straighter beak of the female. Immature birds are grey and have dark flight feathers.

In flight, it is an elegant soaring bird, with the head held close to and aligned with the body by a downward bend in the neck.

Pelicans catch fish in their huge bill pouches, while swimming at the surface. They also eat amphibians, crustaceans and small birds.

The White Pelican is one of the species to which the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA) applies.

Information from: en.Wikipedia.org
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