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Buff-banded Rail - BirdForum Opus

Photo © by Joe Pan
Kinabatangan, Sabah, North Borneo, Malaysia, September 2018
Gallirallus philippensis

Hypotaenidia philippensis


Photo © by Charlie M
Botanic Gardens, Sydney, Australia, April 2004

25–33 cm (9¾-13 in)

  • Brown upperparts
  • Banded black and white underparts
  • White eyebrow
  • Chestnut nape band
  • Buff breast band


Ranges very widely from the Indian Ocean to many island groups in the Pacific as well as to Australia and New Zealand.


Sharpe's Rail is now considered to be a melanistic example of this species.


Photo © by Tiger1
Albany, Western Australia, October 2014

There are 21 subspecies1:

  • G. p. andrewsi - Cocos Islands (Bay of Bengal)
  • G. p. philippensis - Philippine Islands, Sula Islands (Taliabu), Moluccas (Buru), and the Lesser Sunda Islands (Sumba, Alor, Sawu, Rote, and Timor)
  • G. p. pelewensis - Palau Islands (western Caroline Islands)
  • G. p. xerophilus - Gunungapi Islands (Banda Sea)
  • G. p. wilkinsoni - Flores Island (Lesser Sundas)
  • G. p. lacustris - Northern New Guinea
  • G. p. reductus - Central highlands, coastal north-eastern New Guinea and Long Island
  • G. p. anachoretae - Anchorite Island (Admiralty Islands)
  • G. p. admiralitatis - Admiralty Islands
  • G. p. praedo - Skoki Island (Admiralty Islands)
  • G. p. lesouefi - Bismarck Archipelago (New Hanover, New Ireland, Tabar and Tanga)
  • G. p. meyeri - Bismarck Archipelago (Witu Islands and New Britain)
  • G. p. christophori - Solomon Islands
  • G. p. mellori - Southern New Guinea, Australia and Norfolk Island
  • G. p. assimilis - New Zealand
  • G. p. tounelieri - Coral Sea islets (south-eastern New Guinea to northern New Caledonia)
  • G. p. swindellsi - New Caledonia and Loyalty Islands
  • G. p. sethsmithi - Fiji Islands and Vanuatu
  • G. p. ecaudatus - Tonga Islands
  • G. p. goodsoni - Samoa Islands and Niue Island
  • G. p. macquariensis - Macquarie Island (Extinct)


Grassy, reedy or thickly vegetated areas close to water. Marshes, ricefields and open grasslands. Coastal scrub, coral atolls and gardens.



The diet consists of a wide variety of invertebrates, small vertebrates, crustaceans, seeds, fruit, carrion and refuse.


They nest in dense grass or reeds close to water. The clutch consists of 5-8 eggs.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, S. M. Billerman, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2019. The eBird/Clements Checklist of Birds of the World: v2019. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Wikipedia
  3. BF Member observations
  4. Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive (retrieved Oct 2017)

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