T.E.R:R.A.I.N - Taranaki Educational Resource: Research, Analysis and Information Network

Banded rail (Gallirallus philippensis)

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Gruiformes
Family: Rallidae
Genus: Gallirallus
Species: G. philippensis
Binomial name: Gallirallus philippensis
Synonyms: Rallus philippensis
Common name: Banded rail, Buff-banded rail, moho-pereru

Gallirallus philippensis is a distinctively coloured, highly dispersive, medium-sized rail of the rail 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 and numerous smaller islands, covering a range of latitudes from the tropics to the Sub Antarctic. In New Zealand, they are now mainly found in mangrove and saltmarsh vegetation in the upper North Island, Marlborough and Nelson they are also found in rush-covered areas and coastal wetlands on Great Barrier Island and in forest and shrubland on the Three Kings Islands and on four islands off Stewart Island.
It is a largely terrestrial bird the size of a small domestic chicken, with mainly brown, white spotted upperparts, bold black and white zebra stripes on the belly, a white eyebrow, chestnut band running from the bill around the nape and a broad buff-orange band across the breast. The reddish-brown bill is long and stout. The eyes are a dark-red, and the legs are a pinkish-brown. Immature birds are duller with a dark bill and legs, Nestlings are sooty black, with black feet and bill.
Gallirallus philippensis are rarely seen, as they are well-camouflaged and remain under the cover of wetland vegetation, although their footprints are often seen.
Gallirallus philippensis 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. Its nest is usually situated in dense grassy or reedy vegetation close to water, with a clutch size of 3-4. 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.


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