Porphyrio albus Shaw, Smith & Hunter, 1790:235

Lord Howe Island swamphen, Lord Howe swamphen, White swamphen, White gallinule, Lord Howe gallinule



Taxonomy & Nomenclature

Synonym/s: Porphyrio albus White, 1790:235 (incorrect attribution); Porphyrio albus Shaw, 1790:235 (incorrect attribution); Porphyrio porphyrio albus White, 1790; Porphyrio stanleyi Rowley, 1875; Notornis alba Shaw, Smith & Hunter, 1790:235; Fulica alba White, 1790:235; Porphyrio raperi Mathews, 1928; Notornis stanleyi Rowley, 1875:37; Porphyrio stanleyi Rowley, 1875:37


The authorship of Porphyrio albus is usually attributed solely to White or solely to Shaw, however according to ICZN rules the correct author attribution is "Shaw, Smith & Hunter, 1790" (McAllan & Bruce, 1989:27).


Conservation Status


Last record: May 1788 (McAllan et al., 2004:38); 1790 (BirdLife International, 2012); c.1844 (Hume & Walters, 2012:114)

IUCN RedList status: Extinct



Lord Howe Island, New South Wales, Australia


Biology & Ecology




Two skins, one in Vienna and the other in Liverpool (E. S. Hill, quoted in Paramonov, 1960:75; Greenway, 1967:245; Taylor & van Perlo 1998). There are also two paintings, by Thomas Watling and George Raper from 1788 and 1790, respectively (Day, 1981:86).



Above: illustration from Mathews (1928).



Original scientific description:

White, John. (1790). Journal of a voyage to New South Wales with sixty-five plates of non descript animals, birds, lizards, serpents, curious cones of trees and other natural productions. London: J. Debrett.


Other references:

BirdLife International. (2012). Porphyrio albus. In: IUCN 2012. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2012.2. ( Downloaded on 25 November 2012.

BirdLife International. 2016. Porphyrio albus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T22692801A93370193. Accessed on 02 July 2022.

Brooks, T. 2000. Extinct species. In: BirdLife International (ed.), Threatened Birds of the World, pp. 701-708. Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, Barcelona and Cambridge, U.K.

Christidis, L. and Boles, W.E. 2008. Systematics and Taxonomy of Australian Birds. CSIRO Publishing, Collingwood, Australia.

Day, David. (1981). The Doomsday Book of Animals: A Natural History of Vanished Species. New York, N.Y.: The Viking Press.

Department of Environment and Climate Change (NSW). (2007). Lord Howe Island Biodiversity Management Plan Appendices. Department of Environment and Climate Change (NSW), Sydney. vii + 267 pp.

Etheridge, R. (1889). The general zoology of Lord Howe Island; containing also an account of the collections made by the Australian Museum Collecting Party, Aug.–Sept., 1887. Australian Museum Memoir 2(1): 1-42, plates iv–v.

Forbes, H. O. (1901). Note on Lord Stanley's Water Hen. Bulletin of Liverpool Museum 3(2): 62-68.

Fuller, Errol. (1988). Extinct Birds. New York: Facts on File Publications. 256 pp.

Juan C. Garcia-R. and Steve A. Trewick. (2015). Dispersal and speciation in purple swamphens (Rallidae: Porphyrio). The Auk 132(1): 140-155.

Garnett, Stephen (ed.). (1992). Threatened and Extinct Birds of Australia. RAOU Report Number 82. 212 pp.

Garnett, S. T. and Crowley, G. M. (2000). The Action Plan for Australian Birds 2000. Canberra, ACT: Environment Australia & Birds Australia.

Gray, G. R. (1862). A list of Birds of New Zealand and the adjacent islands. Ibis 4: 214-254.

Greenway James C. (1967). Extinct and Vanishing Birds of the World. American Committee for International Wild Life Protection, Special Publication no 13, 2nd edn. Dover Publications, New York.

Hill, Edward S. (1870). Lord Howe Island. Official visit by the Water Police Magistrate and the Director of the Botanic Gardens, Sydney; together with a description of the island. In: New South Wales Parliamentary Papers (Votes and Proceedings) 1: 635-654.

Hindwood, K. A. (1932). An historic diary: The journal of the voyage of the Lady Penrhyn 1787-89. Emu 32: 17-29.

Hindwood, Keith A. (1938). The extinct birds of Lord Howe Island. Australian Museum Magazine 6(9): 319-324.

Hindwood, K. A. (1940). The birds of Lord Howe Island. Emu 40: 1-86.

Hindwood, K. A. (1965). John Hunter: a naturalist and artist of the First Fleet. Emu 65: 83-96.

Holdaway, Richard N. and Anderson, Atholl. (2001). Avifauna from the Emily Bay settlement site, Norfolk Island: A preliminary account, pp. 85-100. In: Anderson, Atholl and White, Peter (eds.). Records of the Australian Museum, Supplement 27. Sydney: Australian Museum.

del Hoyo, J., Collar, N.J., Christie, D.A., Elliott, A. and Fishpool, L.D.C. 2014. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Volume 1: Non-passerines. Lynx Edicions BirdLife International, Barcelona, Spain and Cambridge, UK.

Hull, Arthur Francis Basset. (1909). The birds of Lord Howe and Norfolk Islands. Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales 34: 636-693, pls. l-liv. [p. 646]

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Hume, Julian Pender and Walters, Michael. (2012). Extinct Birds. London: T & AD Poyser. 544 pp.

Hutton, Ian. (1991). Birds of Lord Howe Island: Past and Present. Coffs Harbour Plaza, N.S.W.: Self Published. 154 pp.

Iredale, Tom. (1910). Birds of Lord Howe and Norfolk Islands. Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales 35: 776-777.

Latham, J. A. (1790). Index ornithologicus, sive systema ornithologiae; complectens avium divisionem in classes, ordines, genera, species, ipsarumque varietates: adjectis synonymis, locis, descriptionibus, &c. London: Leigh & Sotheby.

Livezey, Brad C. (1998). A phylogenetic analysis of the Gruiformes (Aves) based on morphological characters, with an emphasis on the rails (Rallidae). Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 353: 2077-2151.

Marchant, S. and Higgins, P. J. (1993). Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic birds, 2: raptors to lapwings. Oxford University Press, Melbourne.

Mathews, Gregory Macalister. (1928). The Birds of Norfolk & Lord Howe Islands and the Australasian South Polar Quadrant: with additions to "birds of Australia". London: H.F. & G. Witherby. [p. 5-6, pl. 4]

McAllan, Ian A. W. and Bruce, Murray D. (1989, dated 1988). The Birds of New South Wales: A Working List. Turramurra, N.S.W.: Biocon Research Group, in association with the New South Wales Bird Atlassers. 103 pp.

McAllan, Ian A. W., Curtis, Brian R., Hutton, Ian and Cooper, Richard M. (2004). The Birds of Lord Howe Island Group: A Review of Records. Australian Field Ornithology 21(Supplement): 1-82.

A. Newton. Ibis, 1866, p. 159, note.

Paramonov, S. J. (1960). Lord Howe Island, a Riddle of the Pacific. Part II. Pacific Science 14: 75-85.

Pelzeln, A. v. (1860). Recent ornithological publications. Ibis 2: 421-423.

Pelzeln, A. v. (1873). Birds in the Imperial Collection at Vienna. Ibis 1873: 14.

Phillip, A. (1789). The voyage of Governor Phillip to Botany Bay; with an account of the establishment of the colonies of Port Jackson & Norfolk Island; compiled from authentic papers, which have been obtained from the several departments, to which are added the Journals of Lieuts. Shortland, Watts, & Capt. Marshall, with an account of their new discoveries. London: John Stockdale.

Recher, H. F. (1974). Colonisation and extinction: the birds of Lord Howe Island. Australian Natural History 18(2): 64-69.

Rothschild, Lionel Walter. (1907). Extinct birds: an attempt to write in one volume a short account of those birds which have become extinct in historical times, that is within the last six or seven hundred years: to which are added a few which still exist, but are on the verge of extinction. London: Hutchinson & Co. XXIX + 243 pp. [p. 143 (as P. stanleyi), p. 144, pl. 33]

Rowley, G. D. (1875). Ornithological miscellany. London: Trübner and Co., Bernard Quaritch, and R. H. Porter.

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[O.?] Salvin and Sclater. Index of the Ornithological Literature of 1870, Ibis, 1871, pp. 417 and 443.

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Taylor, B. and van Perlo, B. (1998). Rails: a guide to the rails, crakes, gallinules and coots of the world. Pica Press, Robertsbridge, UK.

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Van Grouw, H. and Hume, Julian Pender. (2016). The history and morphology of Lord Howe Gallinule or Swamphen Porphyrio albus (Rallidae). Bulletin of the British Ornithologists’ Club 136(3): 172-198.

Woinarski, John C. Z., Braby, M. F., Burbidge, A. A., Coates, D., Garnett, S. T., Fensham, R. J., Legge, S. M., McKenzie, N. L., Silcock, J L. and Murphy, B. P. (2019). Reading the black book: The number, timing, distribution and causes of listed extinctions in Australia. Biological Conservation 239: 108261.

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