Crakes & Rails

Rallidae

Stocky semi-aquatic birds of wetlands and adjacent grassland, typically with elongated toes. The endemic White Gallinule Porphyrio albus was aggressively hunted by sailors and whalers in the late 1700s and early 1800s and likely became rapidly extinct around this time. The 21 other species on the Australian list includes four extant endemics, the Lord Howe Woodhen Hypotaenidia sylvestris, Australian Spotted Crake Porzana fluminea, Black-tailed Native-hen Tribonyx ventralis and Tasmanian Native-hen T. mortierii. Among the non-endemic breeding species are the Lewin’s Rail Lewinia pectoralis, Chestnut Rail Eulabeornis castaneoventris, Buff-banded Rail H. philippensis, Purple Swamphen Porphyrio porphyrio and Dusky Moorhen Gallinula tenebrosa

Australian Spotted Crake

Australian Spotted Crake

What does it look like?  This large crake can be distinguished from the smaller Baillon’s Crake by its all-white undertail and two-tone bill, which is olive-green with a red base to the upper mandible. Both crakes are, however, mottled brown and black above, spotted with white, and have black and white barring on the belly. (The Spotless Crake is chiefly grey-brown with bright orange legs and feet. Th...
Eurasian Coot

Eurasian Coot

What does it look like?  Often referred to as the Bald Coot, the Eurasian Coot is an attractive bird.  The name Bald Coot stems from the Saxon word bald, meaning white, and refers to its snowy white bill.  The remainder of the bird is black, except for its bright red eye. Where does it live?  The Coot is found throughout Australia. It also self-transported itself to New Zealand, where it has qui...
Purple Swamphen

Purple Swamphen

What does it look like?  This large, predominantly purplish-blue and black rail is unmistakable with any other Australian waterbird. Its robust red bill and frontal shield and large orange-red legs and feet are also characteristic. The call, a loud “kee-ow”, is also distinctive. Where does it live?  The Purple Swamphen is a common sight throughout northern and eastern Australia, where it inhabi...
Tasmanian Native-hen

Tasmanian Native-hen

What does it look like?  A large flightless bird, with grey legs, yellowish bill, reddish eye and large, flattened tail. The plumage is generally olive-brown above and grey below, with white patches on the thighs and some white flecking in the wings. It is similar to the smaller Black-tailed Native-hen Tribonyx ventralis of the Australian mainland, which has been recorded as a vagrant in Tasmania. ...