BIRD GUIDING AROUND OSLO

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Self found American Purple Gallinule.....

.......but not self SEEN. POSSIBLY

A bird reported as an American Purple Gallinule (amerikapurpurhøne) recently in Norway has caused me to look into this species. There is far from agreement as to what the Norwegian bird is and the pictures will perhaps never allow a certain ID to be made. Moorhen (sivhøne) with a deformed bill has been suggested and I decided to Google exactly that: "Moorhen deformed bill" to see if they were any pictures out ther.
This search turns up next to nothing of any interest except for a post on Surfbirds from May 2011 which then leads to a blog with picture from Lanzarote labelled Moorhen (you need to scroll down a bit).

Surely THIS bird from Lanzarote IS an American Purple Gallinule (Porphyrula martinica). The picture is not ideal but hopefully there are more pictures (I have sent an email to the photographer).

1. For a start there is the bill which is large and also the colouring which better suits American PG coming into summer plumage than Moorhen. A Moorhen in March should have a red bill with narrow yellow tip.
2. Then there is the LARGE red eye. When looking at pictures of APG I have been struck by how they have a large beedy eye (not shown by Moorhen) and the bright red colour looks odd for Moorhen.
3. The general colouration suits APG but not Moorhen. The brown colour on the back is the retained juvenile plumage which matches APG but not Moorhen and the darker adult colouration that is coming through is to my eyes blue tinged. A Moorhen in March would look far more adult like.
4. The large yellow legs look too long and too yellow for Moorhen which has a green tinge.
5. The bird looks to be long and the shape not right for Moorhen
6. The bird lacks (at least in the photo) a white stripe on the flanks which Moorhen shows (the wing is drooping down so this feature would be invisible anyway).
7. Although not really possible to see, I see a suggestion of an "empty" frontal shield extending up from the bill between the eyes which is something I have noticed on pictures of immature APG.

Here is a picture of an immature APG which shows a lot of the features I mention.

An interesting thing is that both the birds from Norway and Lanzarote are swimming. Try googling American Purple Gallinule and see how many pictures show one swimming. A single picture maybe? The species undoubtedly swims but isn't it odd (disconcerting?) that these two putative european birds are photographed swimming whilst the online pictures from the states don't (surely not just a case of  people only posting pictures of standing birds for aesthetic reasons?).

Now of course, I fully expect another picture of the Lanzarote bird to turn up in my inbox which shows that it is a Moorhen as reported, but wouldn't it be just a little cool if while researching the Norwegian bird (whatever it is) that I did uncover a previously unreported APG?!

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