Purple Gallinule vagrancy in the North Atlantic

By Team eBird February 12, 2014
Purple Gallinule

Vagrant hunters on an island vagrant trap off Massachusetts checked a small marsh specifically for Purple Gallinule in October 2011 and surprised themselves by finding this one! Photo by Ryan Schain

Purple Gallinules are well known as champions of long-distance vagrancy, with records from as far north as Iceland, as far south as South Georgia Island, as far west as the Galapagos Islands, and as far east as Italy and South Africa. This species, and many other rails, are habitat-based dispersalists, adapted to respond to ephemeral habitats and with the machinery to travel long distances. In late fall 2013 and winter 2014 there have been a surprising number of observations and specimens collected of this species far out of range. But why? The polar vortex? Drought? Winds? Some combination of the above? BirdCast presents an in-depth analysis that suggests that drought in the Caribbean is driving dispersal and that winds have produced generally favorable conditions for Nearctic and Neotropical vagrants to reach the Palearctic. Head over to BirdCast to read more on Purple Gallinule vagrancy in the North Atlantic.