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Species Guide

Pale-vented Bush-hen

Amaurornis moluccana

The Pale-vented Bush-hen, Amaurornis moluccana, presents itself as a medium-sized waterbird, cloaked in a blue-grey plumage with a distinctive buff vent and undertail. This bird, with a body length ranging from 25 to 30 cm, a wingspan of 140 to 155 mm, and a weight between 150 and 210 grams, is a modestly adorned creature of the forests.

Identification Tips

Upon closer inspection, one may note the Pale-vented Bush-hen's dull gray-blue body contrasted by brown wings and tail. The bird's bill is a striking lime green with an orange-red frontal shield during the breeding season, which fades to a duller green outside of this period. Its legs are of an olive-yellow hue, and the eyes are dark, adding to its cryptic appearance. There is no sexual dimorphism observed, and juveniles can be identified by their paler coloration.


The natural abode of the Pale-vented Bush-hen is the subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests, where it thrives in the dense undergrowth.


This species has a wide range, being found across Australia, the Moluccan Islands, New Guinea, the Bismarck Archipelago, and the Solomon Islands. In Australia, it is predominantly seen in coastal and subcoastal regions, from the Top End of the Northern Territory through eastern Queensland to north-eastern New South Wales.


The Pale-vented Bush-hen is a creature of the shadows, often elusive and best observed at the crepuscular hours or under overcast skies. It frequents the dense vegetation fringing watercourses and wetlands. Its presence is often betrayed by its loud and distinctive vocalizations, which include a repertoire of clucks, clicks, shrieks, and wails.

Song & Calls

The vocal expressions of the Pale-vented Bush-hen are a symphony of the underbrush, with a variety of clucks, clicks, shrieks, and wails that can be heard echoing through its habitat.

Conservation Status

The IUCN Red List has classified the Pale-vented Bush-hen as Least Concern, indicating a stable population. However, regional assessments show a Vulnerable status in New South Wales, Near Threatened in the Northern Territory, and Least Concern in Queensland.

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Pale-vented Bush-hens on Birda

A map showing the sighting location
Hannah Rolland
20 Jun 2023 - 8:53am

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