Kenya Birds

Allen's Gallinule


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Allen's Gallinule

Photograph(s) Copyright ©P&H HARRIS

Porphyrio alleni

Other Names

  English Lesser Gallinule   French Talève d'Allen   German Bronzesultanshuhn   Spanish Calamocillo Africano   Swedish Mindre sultanhöna   Dutch Afrikaanse Purperhoen   Italian Pollo sultano di Allen

World: Africa: widespread S of 15°N including Madagascar, the Comoro Islands and Mauritius (where it is possibly an introduced species). Absent from the arid regions of Somalia and the SW of the African continent.

Kenya: Found mostly in the Rift Valley and coastal lowlands although they may also occur at Lake Victoria. Large numbers are often seen at Lake Baringo when the conditions are right.

Found in dense vegetation around lake margins, papyrus swamps and lily ponds. This is a very shy bird which is adept at swimming and diving, it is also often seen climbing through the vegetation (indeed it will climb up to 2m to get to food and even builds small platforms to enable it to feed on seeds and fruits of taller vegetation). However most of its food is taken from the water or is gleaned from under leaves or from under dead vegetation. It has a varied diet which consists of molluscs, earthworms and other small invertebrates as well as small fish. It also eats seeds and fruits from the marsh reeds, grasses and thorn scrub as well as unripe water-lily seed heads. Interestingly this species is known to be kleptoparasitic, particularly when it comes to lily seeds, it has been observed stealing these from Pygmy-geese.

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