Lifescapes Gallery

2 / Jun / 2010
The hen that eats eggs!
Purple Swamphen, Coorg
Sudhir Shivaram

The hen that eats eggs!

Forget the old debate about which came first. In the swamplands of Coorg, there exists a hen that knows the answer, and as if to emphasize the point, brazenly steals and eats eggs to beat the monotony of an otherwise vegetarian diet. Cannibalism? Not really, for her taste runs to duck’s eggs which she eats while standing on one leg, firmly grasping the delicacy in the other. This, by the way, is how she eats her veggies too, as picking food off the ground is beneath her dignity. Now, the Ducks’ Union may cry ‘fowl’, but the Purple Swamphen has always enjoyed an unfair advantage over birds of a similar feather. It may be the privileges of royalty, but since antiquity, this proud fowl has not just had the run of the manor, but has never had to grace the host’s dinner table. Legend has it that in ancient Greece and Rome, the nobility refrained from eating them, and as a tribute to their noble bearing and gracious plumage, allowed them to wander around as honored guests. Perhaps it is this royal pedigree that finds articulation in the elaborate courting etiquette of the Purple Swamphen. The male woos the female by bowing low and offering her a bouquet of water reeds, accompanied by a loud chuckling. The female, in turn, shows her acceptance by bowing like an arch. All this bowing and wooing is tiring work, and by the time a mating pair has babies, they turn to the local dial-a-nanny service (non-breeding hens, mostly from the previous year’s offspring) to bring up the young. And teach another generation how to deal with the eternal debate about the hen and the egg.

We at Orange County have loved sharing this story with you, and shall bring you one every fortnight, as part of our Responsible Tourism Initiatives to raise awareness about the nature and culture of the environments we operate in.

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010 at 9:15 am and is filed under Birds . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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User Comments
  1. Jyothsna.S.Sastry says:

    nature always has so much that is yet to be explored n thanks to ORANGE COUNTY n TEAM for having done this job for thousands of us.mind blowing photography!!!!!!!

  2. GUNJAN BASERA says:

    oh dats gr8!
    dis onez really b’ful
    v lik d kind of contect u ppl hv maintained wid us

  3. Asha says:

    RR… phenomenal work, as always!

  4. chandra prakash says:

    It is just beautiful. Not only the Photo, but the knowledge accompanying it.

  5. Jesan T Das says:

    Fantastic language of story telling….with an excellent photograph…

  6. arvind says:

    rajesh, me thinks you shld become a full time conservationist. there are very few. we need many more. i love it.

  7. H Natarajan says:

    Beautiful – pix and scrip, as always!

  8. Thresi E. R. says:

    Oh my goodness! I lived in Coorg for more than two decades and not once set my eyes on a hen as beautiful as this! I love its hues… beautifully captured and well described!

  9. Pavithra says:

    Excellent! The write up accompanying the shot is a lovely touch!

  10. Amar Sharma says:

    Another great shot………Love this one.

  11. kannan.k.v. says:

    Well, the ducks should remember not to put all their eggs in one basket when this hen is around.
    Superb picture and a great write up as usual.Thanks.

  12. Rajeswari vachali says:

    A piece beautifully written!

  13. Diwakaran Nair says:

    Brilliant issue. I didn’t know abt such a hen. It looks so royal and proud( more like a cross between an ostrich and a peacock),and the photo has captured its grandeur.
    As for the story, it is as usual so entertaining yet informative.
    Happy Wednesdays again!!!

  14. Shan says:

    Very tallented shot.Very valuable information for nature lovers like us

  15. devanand says:

    Was laughing like a hyena while reading about this beautiful bird. Humorous copy, great pic.

  16. Vicky says:

    I so look forward to receiving these amazing shots – what a beautiful creature.

  17. Rakesh Gandhi says:

    Excellent information given by you.. keep it up!

    Rakesh Gandhi

  18. Ruby says:

    Wow ! Didnt even know that such a beautiful hen existed . Very well shot and the write up is excellent !

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