Talaud rail -- 塔劳秧鸡 (Gymnocrex talaudensis)

Talaud rail held by biologist
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Talaud rail fact file

Talaud rail description

GenusGymnocrex (1)

The Talaud rail (Gymnocrex talaudensis) is a rare, ground-dwelling bird. Found only on a single island in Indonesia, this species is relatively new to science, having only been discovered in 1998. The Talaud rail has a distinctive red iris, contrasting with the characteristic patch of bare, silver-white skin behind each eye. The head, neck and breast of this species are a maroon-chestnut colour, while the upperparts are olive-green and the underparts are black (2).

This species has a long, yellow bill, yellow legs and slightly pink feet (2) (3). As with all species of rail, and most species of ground-dwelling bird, the Talaud rail has short wings and long legs (4).

Although the differences between the male and female Talaud rail are not known, the male tends to be larger in most rail species (4).

The vocalisations of the Talaud rail are reported as a deep ‘ump-ump-ump’ and a series of high-pitched ‘peet-peet-peet’ calls when alarmed (2) (3).

Length: 33 - 35 cm (2)
Bill length: 5.8 cm (3)

Talaud rail biology

Due to its shy and secretive behaviour, the Talaud rail has rarely been sighted and little is known of its biology. Species of rail are usually solitary, ground-dwelling birds and are typically nocturnal. Rails usually build well-hidden nests. Between six and twelve eggs are laid per brood (4).

Like other members of the rail family, the Talaud rail is thought to feed primarily on snails and beetles (3).


Talaud rail range

The Talaud rail is endemic to Karakelang in the Talaud Islands, Indonesia. This species is reported to be widespread on the island, but despite extensive fieldwork only one sighting of the Talaud rail has been made since its discovery (2).


Talaud rail habitat

First discovered in a site surrounded by marshland, streams and small areas of forest, the Talaud rail is thought to favour wetland habitats, particularly long, wet grasslands at the edges of lowland forests. However, much remains unknown about the exact preferences of the Talaud rail, largely due to its extremely elusive nature (2).


Talaud rail status

The Talaud rail is classified as Endangered (EN) on the IUCN Red List (1).

IUCN Red List species status – Endangered


Talaud rail threats

Possible threats to the Talaud rail include hunting by locals, predation by rats and habitat loss caused by agricultural development, commercial timber and mineral extraction (2)

Forest fires are also a problem in the island’s wildlife reserve (5). Rail species tend to be poor fliers, which is likely to exacerbate the problems posed by potential threats (2).


Talaud rail conservation

There are currently no conservation measures specifically targeting the Talaud rail. This species occurs in the Karakelang Wildlife Reserve, but there is currently little effort to manage this site. A four-year project by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) is underway to introduce measures of protection. In 1995, a programme was launched to promote conservation awareness and fieldwork on the island, and this is still ongoing (2).

Conservation measures proposed include searching for the Talaud rail on other islands and the completion of a detailed survey of the Talaud rail’s abundance and distribution in the Karakelang Wildlife Reserve. Identifying ecological requirements and threats will enable areas of suitable habitat for the Talaud rail to be protected (2).

Conservation awareness programmes and increasing local support for the preservation of the Talaud rail are also needed to protect this species (2).

View information on this species at the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre.

Find out more

Find out more about the Talaud rail:



This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact:

This species information was authored as part of the Arkive and Universities Scheme.


A species or taxonomic group that is only found in one particular country or geographic area.
Active at night.


  1. IUCN Red List (November, 2011)
  2. BirdLife International (November, 2011) 
  3. Lambert, F.R. (1998) A new species of Gymnocrex from the Talaud Islands, Indonesia. Forktail, 13: 1-6.
  4. Landsborough, T.A. (1964) A New Dictionary of Birds. Thomas Nelson and Sons Ltd., London.
  5. Riley, J. (2003) Population sizes and the conservation status of endemic and restricted-range bird species on Karakelang, Talaud Islands, Indonesia. Bird Conservation International, 13: 59-74.

Image credit

Talaud rail held by biologist  
Talaud rail held by biologist

© Bram Demeulemeester

Bram Demeulemeester


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