“There is nothing in which the birds differ more from man than the way in which they can build and yet leave a landscape as it was before.” – Robert Wilson Lynd
With long yellow legs and exceptionally-long toes, the Purple Gallinule paints the wetlands’ landscape with its handsome presence. Quite skittish in most settings, this species has adjusted to the presence of humans in the nearby Parque la Vegas in Portoviejo Ecuador. It joins a small cast of feathered occupants that claim this petite little man-made marsh not far from my apartment. (I suspect that it was built on earthquake rubble.) For the past two weeks I have visited the ‘segua’ often to record the rapid growth of the newest generation of Purple Gallinules.
The new chicks provided a grand surprise when they made their appearance around the first of June, and I try to return often to record their growth. I’ve learned why sometimes the water lily leaves appear disturbed; the adults and juveniles search for and retrieve the sunken flower heads, fish them to the surface with their bills, break off the center then race while calling for the young ones to ‘Come eat!”
(Slideshow of Gallinules in perpetual motion!)
The babies also nibbled on Water Hyacinth flowers throughout the day – between feedings of the ripening fruits.
A week later the adults began foraging for a second prized morsel: Crayfish – aka ‘crawfish’ to a Southern girl! It took several photo sessions before I could identify what small item the birds guarded in their bills. The babies race to the parent bird, which breaks the crawfish into bite-sized morsels and doles them out much like a priest at communion!
Perpetually busy, the adults and juveniles work throughout the day, ferrying an increasing supply to the growing chicks. I feel quite blessed to have permission to loiter and photograph the birds while the parque remains off limits to the general population.
The subject of my recent pencil drawing needs no other preface! I present to you, “Purple Gallinule Chicklets.” For more images, go to the Instagram SIBLEYBIRDWATCHINGARTCONTEST.
The babies are growing so fast that it’s time for a new portrait! These photos were taken yesterday. The chicklets are ‘growing’ into their big feet!