Bird observers may be divided into those who can see purple in P. p.
melanotus, and those who see only blue. Some writers do just say 'blue'.
Leading exponent for the purple faction is the Simpson & Day guide, which
not only declares for the purple but shows an unlikely violet in its
illustration. ('Purple' is usually a synonym for 'violet' or a more plummy
colour on the red side of violet.)
The something-each-way group says 'purple', but shows blue in the relevant
illustration eg Slater. HANZAB's field notes give 'deep indigo-blue', which
follows Gould, as well as George Bennett, who kept a couple in his backyard.
The laboratory description is 'purplish-blue', which is supposed to mean on
the blue side of purple, but refers to (74) in the Color Guide. In
daylight, that colour looks about right to me. (It is not what I'd call
'purplish', the Guide label being 'Cyanine Blue'.)
My own view is that the constant deference to 'purple' arises from the
common name, which is a relatively recent coinage derived from 'Purple
Gallinule' which was originally applied to other (more clearly purplish)
subspecies, with which our subspecies is now incorporated.
Anyway, don't take my word for it. You can probably see this common bird
right now, just down the street. Geoffrey Dabb
On Behalf Of brian fleming
Sent: Monday, December 04, 2006 6:55 PM
To: Peter Shute;
Subject: Museum specimen colour deterioration
Purple Swamp-hen colours may require sunlightto bring up the purple,
or they may have faded
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