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Purple Gallinule

MARC number#LocationCountyArrival dateDeparture dateObserversReport
2005-341Ashley Reservoir, HolyokeHampden11/03/0511/03/05A. + L. Richardson (ph)11
2010-691High St. and Barker pond, LanesvilleEssex05/15/1005/24/10S. Mirick* (ph), R. Heil (ph), R. Stymeist (ph), M. Keleher (vt.)16
2010-701Great Pond, EasthamBarnstable05/25/1005/25/10Sarah Mumford (ph)16
2010-741189 Samoset Ave., HullPlymouth12/27/1012/27/10Andrew Cartoceti (ph)16
2011-0111Cuttyhunk IslandDukes10/08/1110/08/11R. Schain* (ph) et al.16
2012-1201Stony Brook Wildlife Sanctuary, NorfolkNorfolk10/07/1210/12/12J. Bauer*, ph. R. Stymeist, ph. M. Iliff, ph. V. Zollo, m.ob.18
2013-0441Devil’s Dishfull Pond, PeabodyEssex09/16/1310/14/14P. Ruvido*, ph. J. Lawson, ph. J. Offermann, m. ob.18
2015-0541Westborough WMA, Chauncy Pond, WestboroughWorcester10/21/1510/22/15ph. J. Lawson*20
2015-0551Burrage Pond WMA, HansonPlymouth11/08/1511/08/15ph. E. Vacchino*20
2017-0421Miacomet PondNantucket05/27/1705/30/17Libby Buck* (ph)21

With well over 50 records, this attractive and highly wandering marsh bird is found nearly annually in Massachusetts. While most records are along the coast, a couple recent records, including Worcester County, suggest that the bird may be even more frequent than is expected. Its fairly shy and retiring nature can make it difficult to locate, and the bird’s preferred habitat of freshwater marshes often results in it arriving at locations that are difficult for birders to access.

First year birds are easy to identify by their tan underparts, green back, yellow legs and almost comically large feet. Adults have a beautiful combination of purple and blue underparts, and green wings. Confusion with the introduced Purple Swamphen could be a problem, but note the Purple Gallinule’s smaller size, yellow legs, and green wings. Purple Swamphens always show red or reddish legs.

Photo by R. Schain 8 Oct 2011

Photo by J. Lawson, 22 Oct 2015