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#977, Purple Swamphen!

Purple Swamphen -- Wakodahatchee Wetlands -- 2007-11-15 -- Bill PrantyBreaking bird news! The Purple Swamphen (Porphyrio porphyrio) has been added to the ABA Checklist. This action by the ABA Checklist Committee raises to 977 the number of species on the Checklist.

(Right: This Purple Swamphen, presumably of the gray-headed taxon, was photographed by Bill Pranty at the Wakodahatchee Wetlands, Palm Beach County, Florida, November 2007.)

Full details will appear later this year in Birding magazine and in the ABA’s new quarterly publication, A Birder’s Guide. Something I’m looking forward to in particular is a summary and overview by ABA Checklist Committee chairman Bill Pranty, to appear in the May/June 2013 Birding. Pranty’s article will summarize for ABA members the following:

  • Current population estimates and geographic range for the
    ABA Area population of the swamphen.
  • Taxonomy and identification. Intriguingly, multiple taxa—possibly representing multiple species—of swamphens may occur in the ABA Area.

In the meantime, I present to The ABA Blog community several topics for discussion. Some of these have the potential to elicit, hmm, divergent opinions. That’s great. Bring it on!

Here goes:

  1. The swamphens have been around for a while. Would you count a swamphen you saw a few months ago? A year ago? Ten years ago?
  2. Swamphens are on the move. If you saw one in Georgia or South Carolina—presumably derived from the Florida population—would you count it for your Georgia or South Carolina state list, respectively?
  3. BPA 0227 -- Purple Swampen -- Pembroke Pines -- 1999-01-22 -- Bill PrantyAs I noted above, multiple taxa appear to be present in Florida. Anybody out there making an effort to ID swamphens beyond the level of “Purple Swamphen”? If so, what are your experiences? Can you share any tips for field ID?
    (Right: This Purple Swamphen, possibly of one of the blue-headed taxa, was photographed by Bill Pranty at Pembroke PInes, Broward County, Florida, January 1999.)
  4. What’s up with all these exotics? Common Myna was added to the Checklist in 2008, then Rosy-faced Lovebird and Nanday Parakeet in 2012, and now Purple Swamphen.
  5. Any thoughts as to what’s next? Nutmeg Mannikin or Orange Bishop, anybody? Rose-ringed Parakeet perhaps?




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Ted Floyd

Ted Floyd

Editor, Birding magazine at American Birding Association
Ted Floyd is the longtime Editor of Birding magazine, and he is broadly involved in other programs and initiatives with the ABA. Ted has written 200+ magazine articles and 5 books, including How to Know the Birds (National Geographic, 2019). He is a frequent speaker at birding festivals and has served on several nonprofit boards. Join Ted at The ABA Blog for his semimonthly spot, “How to Know the Birds,” celebrating common birds and the uncommonly interesting things they do.