Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Fiji's "Teri" Purple Swamp

Fiji Post Limited issued a special souvenir sheet stamp consist of two stamps that features the endemic bird of Fiji, Fiji's "Teri" Purple Swamp, or the Purple Swamphen (Porphyrio porphyrio) on July 20, 2006.

The Purple Swamphen (Porphyrio porphyrio), is a large bird in the family Rallidae (rails).  This chicken-sized bird, with its huge feet, bright plumage and red bill and frontal shield is easily-recognizable in its native range.

This species is sedentary, nomadic or partially migratory, with many populations making local seasonal movements in response to changing habitat conditions .

The species is mainly crepuscular and forages in the early-morning and late-evening.It breeds in solitary territorial pairs (especially in pastures)  or in small communal groups containing several breeding males, breeding females and non-breeding helpers (especially in swamps) .


Suitable habitats include ponds, lakes, dams, marshes, swamps, rivers, flood-plains, artesian wells, sewage farms  and wet rice-fields .The species also extends into open habitats adjacent to wetlands including grasslands, agricultural land, parks, gardens, hedgerows and forest margins.

Its diet consists predominantly of plant matter including shoots, leaves, roots, stems, flowers and seeds, rice, grasses, sedges, water-lilies, fern, bananas, tapioca . It also takes animal matter including molluscs, leeches, small crustaceans, adult and larval insects earthworms, spiders, fish and fish eggs, frogs and frog spawn, lizards ), water snakes Natrix maura , adult birds, bird eggs and nestlings, small rodents and carrion.

The main threats to this species are habitat loss through wetland drainage, habitat degradation through the introduction of exotic species, direct mortality from pesticide contamination , poisoning by cyanobacteria toxins (from dense blooms of cyanobacteria in wetlands) and hunting . The species is also susceptible to avian influenza  and avian botulism so may be threatened by future outbreaks of these diseases . The species is evaluated as Least Concern.

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