10 August 2007


Everyone in Florida complains about the lack of bird diversity in summer. Maybe because I just moved here I am still finding enjoyment in the year-around residents. My favorite summer bird to watch is the Purple Gallinule, Porphyrio martinica. I love the way they use their long toes to wrap around the tall fireflag.

Not to mention that I think they are perhaps the most colorful bird I have had the chance to see on a weekly basis. Their red bill with a tip of yellow provides a great contrast to the blue and green body. And those beautiful bright yellow legs are easy to spot in the green summer vegetation. On a good day I usually spot close to 20 of these Purples mixed in with the Common Moorhens. Common moorhen chicks and young are gray in appearance but the Purples are a nice brown color. As they mature little hints of blue and green radiant through the brown tones and eventually, they will molt into their full adult color.
The juveniles stay around their parents and help with raising the next brood. I love walking up on a family of Purples and watching them scatter about. The older juveniles help herd the little ones into the tall vegetation. After a few minutes, they slowing start creeping back out and resume their feeding. Even on a hot summer day, I must give pause to watch this story unfold.

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