Grey-headed Swamphen

This species is defined as a Review Species . Please submit your records of this species via our record submission page .

Scientific Name: Porphyrio poliocephalus

Malay Name: Panglin Biasa

Chinese Name: 紫水鸡

Range: Breeding Range: Middle East and Indian subcontinent to s China, n Thailand, Andaman and Nicobar Is.

Taxonomy: Polytypic. Subspecies are: seistanicus, poliocephalus, viridis.

Local Subspecies: viridis

Size: 28-29 cm

Identification: Distinguished from Common Moorhen by bigger size, dark purplish blue overall plumage, red stout bill, frontal shield and legs, whitish undertail-coverts and blackish-brown wings. Juvenile resembles adult but has paler plumage and duller frontal shield. Distinguished from the similar Black-backed Swamphen by generally greyer upperparts and head, as well as usually bigger frontal shield that features raised ridges by the side. Hybrids of the two species may occur but confirmatory evidence is lacking, and their taxonomic relationships are also being debated.

Similar looking species: Common Moorhen

Habitat: Freshwater wetlands.

Behaviour/Ecology: Often seen feeding in the open by picking up food material while walking on floating vegetation.

Local Status: Former resident and very rare visitor

Past records in our database:

Showing only accepted records. Records currently under review are also not displayed. For a full list, click here.


Jeyarajasingam, A., & Pearson, A. (2012). A Field Guide to the Birds of Peninsular Malaysia and Singapore. Oxford University Press.

Robson, C. (2014). Field guide to the birds of South-East Asia (Second Edition). Bloomsbury Publishing, London.