Predator most fowl

Subject: Predator most fowl
From: Clive Nealon <>
Date: Tue, 4 Oct 2011 07:42:08 -0400 (EDT)
At the time of the incident I refer to, my daughter may have been considered a 
cygnet (a much 
more attractive prospect than a duckling).
She did have food in her hand at the time and a Purple Swamphen removed the 
food, and some 
of the skin from her finger, in an unprovoked attack.
My daughter has, ever since, considered the Purple Swamphen more obnoxious even 
swooping magpies.  


Regards, Clive.

-----Original Message-----
From: Debbie Lustig <>
To: birding-aus <>
Sent: Tue, Oct 4, 2011 3:28 pm
Subject: Predator most fowl

In his Saturday Age column on 1/10, 'The case against the swamphen', Robert 
Drewe described the Purple Swamphen thus:

'It's a tallish, bulky, gaunt bird...taller than the average rooster and, in a 
masked Darth Vader sort of way, more menacing in appearance...[It] has sinister 
black feathers, which blend into an oily purple ruff around the neck. [Its head 
has] a red skullcap of plastic-looking, cartilaginous stuff, which descends 
a mask from which black eyes glint cunningly and a disproportionately large, 
horny beak.

'The swamphen has an edgy demeanour, skinny legs and three long, unwebbed 
toes...on which it strides and sprints across reeds and lily-pads, defecating 
heedlessly as it goes.'

Next, about the swamphen's supposed lack of flying prowess: '[It] flaps and 
flies about as high and successfully as a domestic chicken.'

The real point of the piece comes after all this, arguably slanderous stuff 
you slander a bird?).

Drewe witnessed swamphens grabbing ducklings and cygnets. He claims to have 
this at least three times. Then, recently, one bit him while he tried to jog 
around it. Hence, the ugly, hate-crime rhetoric about its looks and demeanour. 
(It's a very funny article.)

Never having suffered an attack by one, I must leap to the defence of 
They're fun to photograph with some bit of stuff in their (long, unwebbed) 
And they fly quite fast round these parts. Wandering around on top of huge reed 
beds is pretty neat, too.

Could it be time to start a Purple Swamphen Appreciation Society?

Has anyone apart from (professional yarnspinner) Mr Drewe seen a swamphen grab 
duckling or cygnet? 


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