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Banded Rail

banded rail

Gallirallus philippensis assimilis


Mainly Northland to Bay of Plenty


Wet gullies, swamps, estuaries and lake edges


Snails, worms, insects, fruit, seeds, crustaceans and moluscs


August to March


Made of matted layers of vegetation on the ground under cover


Up to five buff-coloured effs with purple, brown or grey spots, incubated for about 18 days


Generally two broods each year, the second occuring when the chicks from the first are one month old and independent. Chicks fledge in 5-6 weeks.


Introduced mammals, birds of prey

Conservation status:

Protected native species


Similar in size to a bantam hen, they are the largest of the swamp rails.

They are most often heard at dusk - a range of calls, described as 'creaking' and 'growling', near the nest. As they are presumed to be territorial, so calling may be a warning to other rails.

Banded rails walk with a deliberate stride and flick their tails. They are able to fly but prefer to run from danger, with neck outstretched parallel to the ground. Secretive and shy, they are rarely seen. They rely on camouflage and running speed for protection.