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A photo of a Buff-banded Rail (Hypotaenidia philippensis)
Buff-banded Rail

Buff-banded Rail

Hypotaenidia philippensis

The Buff-banded Rail, Hypotaenidia philippensis, presents itself as a medium-sized bird of the Rallidae family. It is adorned with a distinctive plumage, featuring brown upperparts and finely banded black and white underparts. A white eyebrow and a chestnut band extending from the bill around the nape are notable, along with a buff band across the breast.

Identification Tips

When attempting to identify this species, look for its size comparable to a small domestic chicken and its terrestrial nature. The combination of the white eyebrow, chestnut nape band, and the buff breast band are key features distinguishing it from other rails.


This rail favors moist or wetland environments where dense, low vegetation provides ample cover. It is adept at navigating through such habitats with ease.


The Buff-banded Rail boasts a wide distribution across Australasia and the south-west Pacific region. Its range spans from the Philippines, through New Guinea, Australia, and New Zealand, to numerous smaller islands, embracing a variety of latitudes from tropical to subantarctic climates.


This species is known for its omnivorous scavenging habits, feeding on a diverse diet that includes invertebrates, small vertebrates, seeds, fruit, and even carrion. It exhibits a shy demeanor but can become surprisingly tame in certain settings, such as island resorts.


The Buff-banded Rail constructs its nest within dense grassy or reedy vegetation near water sources. A typical clutch consists of 3 to 4 eggs, with the species demonstrating a strong attachment to its nesting sites.

Conservation Status

Despite the vulnerability of some island populations to introduced predators, the Buff-banded Rail as a whole maintains a stable population. Its conservation status is currently assessed as Least Concern, indicating a species not at immediate risk of decline.

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