Backyard Buddies
Purple Swamphen

Photo: Rosie Nicolai

Purple Swamphen

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Purple Swamphens are common throughout eastern and northern Australia, with a separate subspecies common in the extreme south-west of the country.

You may also see Purple Swamphens frequenting the same areas as Dusky Moorhens and Eurasian Coots. You can tell a Purple Swamphen apart from similar looking birds by its distinctive purple patch on

the breast and red beak and facial shield.

Purple Swamphens are arguably the most attractive looking of the rail family. These birds love to hang around water and aren't shy. They may investigate you next time you go for a picnic in the park.

Purple Swamphens are often seen flicking their tails and grazing near ponds or lakes in parks and botanical gardens, storm water drains, wetlands, freshwater swamps and marshes, and along major urban rivers, such as the Brisbane, Derwent, Yarra, Torrens and Swan rivers.

Some Purple Swamphens have grown accustomed to accepting food from picnickers and tourists, however it’s best to avoid feeding wild animals as they can find their own food. Some of our processed foods like bread can make birds and other buddies sick, as their digestive systems aren’t used to handling it.

You can look after Purple Swamphens in your own backyard

Carry a bag in your car or jacket pocket to collect rubbish in that you find when you go for a walk, and dispose of it appropriately. Cigarette butts, plastic bags, drink bottles, chip packets and bottle caps often end up in our waterways and harm marine animals and water birds.

A single plastic bag can last for hundreds of years in salt water, and can cause many marine fatalities before it eventually gets broken up.

Simple things that you do can make a huge difference to Australia’s animals. That’s why the Foundation for National Parks & Wildlife is running Backyard Buddies— to give you tips to help.

What is a backyard buddy?

Backyard buddies are the native animals that share our built-up areas, our beaches and waterways, our backyards and our parks. The Purple Swamphen is a backyard buddy.

Backyard buddies are also the local people who value the living things around them, like Purple Swamphens, and are willing to protect and encourage them by doing a few simple things around their own homes. So you can be a backyard buddy.

Be a backyard buddy

It’s easy. All you have to do is care... and take a few simple steps.

Step one is to find out what Purple Swamphens do and do not like.

Purple Swamphens love:

A good meal – of seeds, insects, frogs, snails, small mammals, the soft shoots of reeds, and even a duckling if they can catch one.

Waterways – especially freshwater streams, swamps and marshes.

But they don't like:

Rubbish – which enters waterways and can pollute their habitat.

Garden chemicals – which get washed away from the garden by rain and enter rivers, streams and swamps.

Fast cars – which can injure or kill them as they dart across the road to get to a food or water source on the other side. If you see an injured Purple Swamphen, please call a wildlife carer or local vet to assist.

Be a Purple Swamphen buddy

Try to:


Don't be surprised if:

Find out more about your buddies

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