Temporal range: Middle Miocene-Present 15–0 Ma
Australasian swamphen, Porphyrio melanotus in New Zealand
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Gruiformes
Family: Rallidae
Genus: Porphyrio
Brisson, 1760
Type species
Porphyrio porphyrio
Linnaeus, 1758

See text



Porphyrio is the swamphen or swamp hen bird genus in the rail family. It includes some smaller species which are usually called "purple gallinules", and which are sometimes separated as genus Porphyrula or united with the gallinules proper (or "moorhens") in Gallinula. The Porphyrio gallinules are distributed in the warmer regions of the world. The group probably originated in Africa in the Middle Miocene, before spreading across the world in waves from the Late Miocene to Pleistocene.[1]

The genus Porphyrio was introduced by the French zoologist Mathurin Jacques Brisson in 1760 with the western swamphen (Porphyrio porphyrio) as the type species.[2][3] The genus name Porphyrio is the Latin name for "swamphen",[4] meaning "purple".


The genus contains ten extant species and two that have become extinct in historical times:[5]

Extant species

Extinct species


  1. ^ a b García-R, J.C.; Trewick, S.A. (2015). "Dispersal and speciation in purple swamphens (Rallidae: Porphyrio)". Auk. 122 (1): 140–155. doi:10.1642/AUK-14-114.1.
  2. ^ Brisson, Mathurin Jacques (1760). Ornithologie, ou, Méthode Contenant la Division des Oiseaux en Ordres, Sections, Genres, Especes & leurs Variétés (in French and Latin). Paris: Jean-Baptiste Bauche. Vol. 1, p. 48, Vol. 5, p. 522.
  3. ^ Peters, James Lee, ed. (1934). Check-list of Birds of the World. Volume 2. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press. p. 207. |volume= has extra text (help)
  4. ^ Jobling, James A (2010). The Helm Dictionary of Scientific Bird Names. London: Christopher Helm. p. 314. ISBN 978-1-4081-2501-4.
  5. ^ Gill, Frank; Donsker, David, eds. (2019). "Chats, Old World flycatchers". World Bird List Version 9.1. International Ornithologists' Union. Retrieved 3 April 2019.
  6. ^ Sangster, G. (1998). "Purple Swamp-hen is a complex of species" (PDF). Dutch Birding. 20 (1): 13–22.