Re: purple swamphen

To: kayleen mort <>
Subject: Re: purple swamphen
From: Brian Fleming <>
Date: Thu, 10 Dec 1998 20:06:53 +1100
kayleen mort wrote:
> this is my first message. nervous but just had to tell somebody. a
> neighbour
> here on flinders island (Tasmania) yesterday showed me a nest (looked
> like two
> right beside each other) of a purple swamphen. it had 39 eggs and the
> neighbour who is in his 80s said he'd only ever seen seven eggs per
> nest at
> the most. the nest was discovered during haymaking and the  "haymaker"
> spotted
> the bird & managed to raise the mower in time to save the nest. i
> asked if the
> birds were trying point out that it might be going to be a good
> season. to
> which my friend replied:" i don't know what they're trying to reveal"!
Dear Kayleen, Interesting record!  Swamphens alias Pukeko lead
complicated communal lives.  This sounds as if several hens in the group
have all laid eggs in the same nest, or two nests.
Acording to HANZAB,communally breeding group is 2-7 breeding males,1-2
breeding females,  and up to 7 non-breeding helpers (earlier offspring
of breeders)...Only most dominant females breed; if 2 breeding females
present they lay in same nest. Incubation by all breeding adults. All
birds in pairs and groups care for young.
Clutch-size: In Australia between 2 and 6 eggs, av.4.2.  In NZ, clutch
from 1 or 2 females, av.7.4, between 4-13, occasionally larger.
   I hope the birds don't abandon the nest or get taken by predators
after their cover in the hay disappeared. it will be interesting to see
how many young hatch from such an accumulation. Keep observing if
possible. I'd like to know what happens.
  best wishes, Anthea Fleming in Melbourne

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