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A photo of a Giant Wood Rail (Aramides ypecaha)
Giant Wood Rail

Giant Wood Rail

Aramides ypecaha

The Giant Wood Rail, Aramides ypecaha, is a striking bird with a robust build, measuring between 41 to 45 cm in length, and some individuals may reach up to 53 cm. This species exhibits sexual monomorphism, meaning males and females are similar in appearance. They are characterized by their large mustard yellow bill, piercing red eyes, and vibrant red legs and feet. The face to the upper chest is a bluish gray, adorned with a white chin, while the back of the neck showcases a rust red hue. Their back is olive in color, and the uppertail coverts and tail are a stark black. The flanks, breast, and belly present a brownish pink shade, completing their distinctive palette.

Identification Tips

When identifying the Giant Wood Rail, look for the combination of the yellow bill, red eyes, and red legs which are quite distinctive. The bluish gray face and upper chest contrast with the rust red neck and olive back. The black tail and brownish pink underparts are also key features to distinguish this species from others.


This bird favors wet landscapes within the lowlands, such as marshes, lightly wooded swamps, and gallery forests. It is also known to frequent fields and pastures that are in close proximity to water sources and areas that provide cover.


The Giant Wood Rail is native to South America, with its range extending across eastern Bolivia, east-central and southeastern Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, and northeastern Argentina.


The Giant Wood Rail is a year-round resident within its range, showing no significant migratory patterns. It is known to forage in the open more than other members of its genus and has been observed digging in soil and even carrying a snake.

Song & Calls

A highly vocal species, the Giant Wood Rail engages in a chorus of sounds that can be described as astonishingly powerful. Their vocal repertoire includes screams, shrieks, and wheezes, which can be heard during the day and into the evening.


Details on the breeding season of the Giant Wood Rail remain elusive. They construct nests out of grasses and weed stems, typically situated in shrubs or matted vegetation at least a meter above water. Clutch sizes generally consist of four to five eggs. In captivity, the incubation period lasts approximately 24 days, and chicks venture from the nest after four days. Both parents are involved in caring for the young for up to nine weeks.

Conservation status

The IUCN has classified the Giant Wood Rail as Least Concern. Despite its large range, the exact population size is unknown but suspected to be in decline. While no immediate threats have been pinpointed, habitat destruction has likely led to a decrease in numbers. This species is also commonly kept in captivity.

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Giant Wood Rails on Birda

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Chris Bell
23 Mar 2024 - 10:43am

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