Family Rails, Gallinules, Coots (Rallidae)

Least Concern

Allen's Gallinule (Porphyrio alleni)


French: Talève d’Allen German: Bronzesultanshuhn Spanish: Calamoncillo africano

Porphyrio Alleni

T. R. H. Thomson

, 1842,

Idda (Idah), River Niger, Nigeria


Sometimes placed in Gallinula or Porphyrula. Thought to be closely related to P. martinicus. Monotypic.


Senegal and Gambia E to Ethiopia and Somalia and S to South Africa, excluding arid SW; also Madagascar, Comoro Is, and (probably introduced) Mauritius.

Descriptive notes

22–26 cm; male 132–172 (154) g, female 112–145 (125) g; wingspan 48–52 cm. Superficially resembles P. porphyrio but much smaller, with less... read more


Variety of harsh, often nasal, calls, including dry “keck” and drawn-out “kerk” (sometimes repeated... read more


Freshwater marshes, reedbeds, inundated grassland and floodplains, especially with flooded ... read more

Food and feeding

Flowers and seeds of reeds and sedges; seeds, stems and leaves of grasses and other marsh plants; unripe seedheads of water-lilies; fruits... read more


Sierra Leone, Sept, Nov; Nigeria, May–Oct; Ghana, Jun; Cameroon, Aug; Gabon, May; Ethiopia, Apr, Jun, Sept–Oct; Kenya and NE... read more


Some birds resident year round in permanent wetlands, but with onset of rains in N tropics most... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Erratic nature of occurrence in very seasonal habitats makes populations difficult to assess, but may be locally very numerous in... read more

Recommended citation

Taylor, B. (2020). Allen's Gallinule (Porphyrio alleni). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 30 March 2020).