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Natura Algarve

Purple Swamphen – the symbol of Ria Formosa

12.12.2014 // Natura Algarve

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In the eighties of the last century, Ludo was the last haven for the Purple Swamphen (Porphyrio porphyrio).

Also known as the Purple Moorhen or Purple Gallinule, it was one of the rarest birds in Portugal.

Its distribution was restricted to Ria Formosa and it was also in danger of disappearing as a breeding species. However, throughout the 1990s the species had a spectacular recovery, colonizing small wetlands to the west of Ria Formosa, due to the adoption of protective measures and the creation of new ponds, some of which located on golf courses. Today it not only occurs throughout the Algarve but also in certain wetlands of the Alentejo and the Baixo Mondego, where a reintroduction project for this bird took place.

The Purple Swamphen distinguishes itself by the blue plumage, which contrasts with the red massive feet and beak and it was elected the symbol of the Ria Formosa Nature Park. It’s a large bird in the family Rallidae (rails) very well adapted to  freshwater and brackish wetlands containing plenty of vegetation. Hides easily through the vegetation but their vocalization, that remembers one trumpet, denounces their presence and it’s one of the highlights for those birdwatching in the Algarve.

This species protection status is still considered vulnerable due to its small population, habitat fragmentation and the constant threats to wetland areas without any protection status but the Algarve is still the best region in Portugal to improve your sightings list with the beautiful Purple Swamphen.

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