Verification of Unusual Sight Record
For Utah

Rec. # 2004-

Common name:

Purple Gallinule

Scientific name: Porphyrula martinica
Date: July 26, 2004
Time: ~9:30 A.M.
Length of time observed: About 20 Minutes of actual observation
Number: 1
Age: Adult
Sex: ?
Location: Jordanelle Wetlands, BOR Mitigation Sight
County: Wasatch
Latilong: 6 (Salt Lake City - Provo)
Elevation: ~6000 Feet
Distance to bird: 15 - 25 Feet
Optical equipment: 8x42 Binoculars and Kowa Spotting Scope.
Weather: Calm and Sunny
Light Conditions: Sometimes well lit sometimes in the shadows.
Detailed description of bird: A medium sized bird (a little larger than a Virginia Rail) shaped kind of like a sora but with longer legs and neck. Very brightly colored when in the sun. The bird had a deep purple shine on the head, neck and body that blended into a blue on its sides. The back and wings looked shiny green in the sun and dull brownish green when it was in the shadows. The bird had long, very bright yellow legs and toes. The bill was wedge shaped and bright red with a yellow tip. (The legs and bill were so brightly colored they were the first thing I noticed.) The forehead shield must have blended in with the head because I did not notice it as I was observing and forgot to look for it.  (see photos)
Song or call & method of delivery: Heard some squeaky clucking noises that, after referring
to some recordings, I believe may have been the Gallinule but I didnít
actually see it making the noise.
Behavior: First saw it out in the sun about 3 feet off the ground on a bent over willow branch. It walk down off the branch and slowly slunk through thin sedges near the waters edge, almost completely concealed by vegetation.
It then climbed up onto another willow branch over a small channel of water and sat there for a while. Latter, where Cattails, sedges and water came together, it spent some time pulling down grassy vegetation and stepping on it. We saw it picking at weed heads and pecking at the water.
Its tail stuck strait up between its wings and the bird would sometimes pump its tail in an upward movement as it walked.
It eventually slipped off into the vegetation and we couldnít relocate it.
Habitat: It spent its time in the willows and cattails at the waters edge in a grassy marsh.
Similar species and how
were they eliminated:
Common Moorhen isnít as brightly colored, has a red shield on its forehead and a white stripe on its sides.
Purple Swamphen is larger with all red bill and legs.
Previous experience with
this & similar species:
I have had no previous experience with Purple Gallinule. I do have some experience with Common Moorhen.
References consulted: The Sibley Guide to Birds
Description from: Notes made later
Observer: Eric Huish
Observer's address: 850 East 100 North Pleasant Grove Utah 84062
Observer's e-mail address:
Other observers who independently identified this bird: Clay and Cliftia Johnson found and reported the bird. Milton Moody was with me when I saw it and Dennis Shirley saw it latter
Date prepared: July 26, 2004    (General Public)
Additional material: Photos
Additional comments: Photos were taken by Colby Neuman