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Sunday, December 4, 2022

Simply blue-hens !?!? or Western Swamphen ?!?!?

Simply blue-hens !?!?  or  Western Swamphen ?!?!? 

Imp Pre-script :  post of an amateur photographer, quality may be ordinary (taken with Nikond7500 with Nikkon 70-300 lens – more importantly, claim no knowledge of  winged wonders – even the name could be wrong !! – just google image-checked !) 

Bird photography is quite interesting ! but most of us would not be attracted by common birds say – Crows, Hens, Pigeons and what we normally get to see !! 

The One seen and photographed today – resembled a common hen, uncommon by its colour, this species was making   loud, quick, bleating and hooting calls which are hardly bird-like in tone. It is particularly noisy during the breeding season. Read that despite being clumsy in flight, it can fly  distances and is a good swimmer, especially for a bird without webbed feet. 

The western swamphen (known as Purple Swamphen) (Porphyrio porphyrio) is a swamphen in the rail family Rallidae, one of the six species of purple swamphen. This chicken-sized bird, with its large feet, bright plumage and red bill and frontal shield is easily recognisable in its native range.   The western swamphen is found in wetlands in Spain, India, Portugal, France, Italy,  and northwestern Africa (Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia).


இன்று நீர்நிலையில் பார்த்த இந்த பறவைகள் சற்று சாதாரண கோழியை ஒத்து இருந்தன - உடல் நீல வண்ண நிறத்தில் இருந்தது.   இப்பறவைகள்  பறக்கும் திறன்கொண்டவை. சிவந்த  நிறக்கால்களைக்கொண்ட இவற்றின் விரல்களிடையே சவ்வு இல்லையென்றாலும் நன்றாக நீந்தக் கூடியவை. இவற்றின் உணவு நீர்த்தாவரங்கள், சிறு உயிரிகளான தவளை, நத்தை, வாத்துக்குஞ்சுகள் போன்றவை. 

நீலத் தாழைக்கோழி அல்லது மயில்கால் கோழி அல்லது சேமன்கோழி (Western swamphen) என்பது கோழியை ஒத்த உருவத்தை உடைய பறவையாகும். இது ஏரிக்கரைகள் போன்ற ஈரமான நிலங்களில் வாழ்கிறது.  

Porphyrio is the swamphen or swamp hen bird genus in the rail family. It includes some smaller species and  are distributed in the warmer regions of the world.  The genus Porphyrio was introduced by the French zoologist Mathurin Jacques Brisson in 1760 with the western swamphen (Porphyrio porphyrio) as the type species. The genus name Porphyrio is the Latin name for "swamphen", meaning "purple". The male has an elaborate courtship display, holding water weeds in his bill and bowing to the female with loud chuckles.  

The grey-headed swamphen was introduced to North America in the late 1990s due to avicultural escapes in the Pembroke Pines, Florida area. State wildlife biologists attempted to eradicate the birds, but they have multiplied and can now be found in many areas of southern Florida.  

After terming rats, mice, fruit bats, and crows as vermin for destroying crops, pokkali rice farmers in Kerala demanded the High Court to add Grey-headed swamphen or "Neela Kozhi" to the list. The grey-headed swamphens are usually found in uncultivated paddy fields or swampy areas of wetlands where they roost and breed. Bugged by the persistent invasion by these birds of their paddy fields, where a special salt resistant variety of rice called ''pokkali'' is being cultivated, an Ernakulam-based association of farmers  moved the Kerala High Court urging it to declare this particular species of swamphen as vermin.   

Pokkali cultivation is a form of mixed farming, where five months are devoted to growing rice, another five months for prawn or fish breeding and remaining 60 days are a transient period between the two. According to the experts, the bird is a protected species under the Wildlife Protection Act and that it can be declared as vermin only by the Forest department of the state. The state government, on the other hand, opposed the plea saying the bird was migratory and this was the first time such a complaint had come. It said the farmers ought to have first approached the forest department before approaching the court.  

The court, however, asked the state government not to take such a technical objection, saying if the farmers did not have a problem, they would not have filed a writ petition. The High court had earlier permitted farmers to hunt down wild boars attacking farmlands in certain parts of the state and had asked the state government to declare the animal as vermin in those specific areas. A similar relief was being sought by the pokkali rice farmers for their fields in Ernakulam.  Besides urging the court to declare the bird in question as a vermin as far as their fields are concerned, the farmers also sought that they be protected from any action under the Wildlife Act if they kill, injure or trap the grey-headed swamphen while trying to protect their crop, which is primarily grown in Thrissur, Ernakulam and Alappuzha districts of the state. 

Greedy man wants everything to Himself – given a choice, he would kill at will, destroy and wipe out every species but at times will cry that some animals are treated badly, especially if they have some Hindu Temple connection.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

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