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Buff-banded Rail Picture

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The Buff-banded Rail, Gallirallus philippensis is a distinctively coloured, highly dispersive, medium-sized rail of the family Rallidae.

This species comprises several subspecies found throughout much of Australasia and the south-west Pacific region, including the Philippines, New Guinea, Australia, New Zealand - where it is known as the Banded Rail or Moho-pereru (M?ori) - and numerous smaller islands, covering a range of latitudes from the tropics to the Subantarctic.

It is a largely terrestrial bird the size of a small domestic chicken, with mainly brown upperparts, finely banded black and white underparts, a white eyebrow, chestnut band running from the bill round the nape, with a buff band on the breast. It utilises a range of moist or wetland habitats with low, dense vegetation for cover. It is usually quite shy but may become very tame and bold in some circumstances, such as in island resorts within the Great Barrier Reef region.

The Buff-banded Rail is an omnivorous scavenger which feeds on a range of terrestrial invertebrates and small vertebrates, seeds, fallen fruit and other vegetable matter, as well as carrion and refuse. Its nest is usually situated in dense grassy or reddy vegetation close to water, with a clutch size of 5-8. Although some island populations may be threatened, or even exterminated, by introduced predators, the species as a whole appears to be safe and its conservation status is considered to be of Least Concern.


Described subspecies include:

  • G. p. admiralitatis (Stresemann, 1929), Admiralty Islands
  • G. p. anachoretae (Mayr, 1949), Anchorite Islands, PNG
  • G. p. andrewsi (Mathews, 1911), Cocos Buff-banded Rail, endemic to the Cocos (Keeling) Islands, Endangered
  • G. p. assimilis (G. R. Gray, 1843), New Zealand
  • G. p. chlandleri, northern Sulawesi
  • G. p. christophori (Mayr, 1938), Solomon Islands
  • G. p. dieffenbachi, endemic to the Chatham Islands, Extinct
  • G. p. ecaudatus (J. F. Miller, 1783), (SW Pacific)
  • G. p. goodsoni (Mathews, 1911), Samoa and Niue Islands
  • G. p. lacustris (Mayr, 1938), (New Guinea)
  • G. p. lesouefi (Mathews, 1911), New Hanover, Tabar and Tanga Islands, possibly New Ireland
  • G. p. macquariensis (Hutton, 1879), Macquarie Island Rail, endemic to Macquarie Island, Extinct
  • G. p. mellori (Mathews, 1912), Tasmania and mainland Australia, Least Concern
  • G. p. meyeri (Hartert, 1930), Witu Island, PNG
  • G. p. pelewensis (Mayr, 1933), Palau
  • G. p. philippensis ((Linnaeus, 1766), Philippines, Sulawesi, Buru and Sunda Islands
  • G. p. praedo (Mayr, 1949), Skoki Island, Admiralty Islands
  • G. p. randi (Mayr & Gilliard, 1951)
  • G. p. reductus (Mayr, 1938), northern New Guinea
  • G. p. sethsmithi (Mathews, 1911), Vanuatu, Fiji
  • G. p. swindellsi (Mathews, 1911), New Caledonia and Loyalty Islands
  • G. p. tounelieri Schodde & Naurois, 1982, Coral Sea Islands
  • G. p. wahgiensis (Mayr & Gilliard, 1951), central highlands of New Guinea
  • G. p. wilkinsoni (Mathews, 1911), Flores
  • G. p. xerophilus (Bemmel & Hoogerwerf, 1940), (Indonesia)
  • G. p. yorki, Moluccas, western and southern New Guinea

Lady Elliot Island, Qld, Australia

Extinct Chatham Islands Buff-banded Rail G. p. dieffenbachi

East Australian race G. p. mellori

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