The African Purple Swamphen, (previously known as the Purple Gallinule) Afrikaans name : Grootkoningriethaan, is a strange looking bird that reminds one of prehistoric times. It has feet that are about a third of the size of the bird and a beak and frontal shield that look like armour plating, which I am sure could easily take off a person’s finger.


The colour on this bird is a stunning array of purple, turquoise, green and red which makes it by far one of the most colourful of the reed birds. As its name suggests it lives mostly in swamps, reed beds and waterways. The Swamp Hen actually pulls the reeds out entirely with it’s large feet and then feeds off of the softer white pulpy part of the reed stem which is hidden below the surface. They have also been known to eat fish, frogs, birds’ eggs and chicks.


The African Purple Swamphen normally lays 2 – 5 eggs in a large cup shaped nest within the reed bed. Chicks are able to swim within two days of hatching. The nest is normally built by the male and female with other helpers assisting with bringing building materials.


It is a very skittish bird, and can be seen flicking it’s white tail when it thinks it is in danger, it prefers to hide in the reeds and you can count yourself very lucky to see one out in the open. The Swamphen is widely seen throughout Africa with the exception being the dry and arid regions. They are decreasing in numbers due to their habitat being destroyed.