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Madagascar Rail Rallus madagascariensis
BirdLife is updating this factsheet for the 2016 Red List
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This species is listed as Vulnerable because its population is small and undergoing a continuing decline owing to the accelerating destruction and modification of its wetland habitats.

Taxonomic source(s)
del Hoyo, J.; Collar, N. J.; Christie, D. A.; Elliott, A.; Fishpool, L. D. C. 2014. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Barcelona, Spain and Cambridge UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International.

25 cm. Medium-sized plain brown rail. Rather nondescript plumage (mostly plain brown with some streaks on the upperparts and upper breast) but does show greyish face and throat and white undertail. Bill red, legs dark. Similar spp. Distinguished from similarly sized sympatric Rallidae by long, slender bill, lack of white in throat, unbarred flanks and upperpart colouration.

Distribution and population
Rallus madagascariensis occupies suitable habitat in eastern Madagascar where it is generally rare but locally not uncommon (Morris and Hawkins 1998; Langrand 1990). Its population is estimated to number 2,500-10,000 individuals.

Population justification
The species's population is estimated to number 2,500-10,000 individuals (F. Hawkins in litt. 2002)and is thus probably best placed in the band 2,500-9,999 mature individuals.

Trend justification
This species's population is suspected to have decreased at a moderate rate, in line with levels of habitat loss, owing to transformation of its aquatic and wet forest habitats by agricultural and logging activities.

Behaviour No evidence has been found to support the suggestion that this is a migratory species (del Hoyo et al. 1996; Taylor and van Perlo 1998). It is a secretive bird, usually found alone or in pairs (Langrand (1990). It mainly breeds during the months of August-October (del Hoyo et al. 1996). Habitat This species inhabits dense aquatic vegetation of marshes, wet woodlands and river margins (Langrand 1990; del Hoyo et al. 1996; Taylor and van Perlo 1998), from sea level to 1,800 m (Langrand 1990) but more frequently at high altitudes (del Hoyo et al. 1996). It prefers areas in which the vegetation is dominated by long grasses, reeds and sedges (del Hoyo et al. 1996). Diet it feeds mainly on invertebrates in muddy substrates (Langrand 1990; del Hoyo et al. 1996; Taylor and van Perlo 1998). Breeding site It nests on the ground in thick aquatic vegetation ( Morris and Hawkins 1998; Langrand 1990). The nest is undescribed (Taylor and van Perlo 1998).

Habitat loss is the principal threat (Morris and Hawkins 1998); its aquatic and wet forest habitats are rapidly being transformed by agricultural and logging activities (del Hoyo et al. 1996).

Conservation Actions Underway
It is found in several protected areas (ZICOMA 1999). No species-specific conservation action is yet in place. Conservation Actions Proposed
Promote conservation of its habitats through both policy changes and community conservation projects. Determine the rate of population decline.

del Hoyo, J.; Elliott, A.; Sargatal, J. 1996. Handbook of the Birds of the World, vol. 3: Hoatzin to Auks. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.

Langrand, O. 1990. Guide to the birds of Madagascar. Yale University Press, New Haven, USA.

Morris, P.; Hawkins, F. 1998. Birds of Madagascar: a photographic guide. Pica Press, Robertsbridge, UK.

Taylor, B. 1998. Rails: a guide to the rails, crakes, gallinules and coots of the world. Pica Press, Robertsbridge, UK.

Wetlands International. 2002. Waterbird population estimates. Wetlands International, Wageningen, Netherlands.

ZICOMA. 1999. Zones d'Importance pour la Conservation des Oiseaux a Madagascar.

Further web sources of information
Explore HBW Alive for further information on this species

Search for photos and videos, and hear sounds of this species from the Internet Bird Collection

Text account compilers
Benstead, P., Ekstrom, J., Symes, A., Taylor, J.

IUCN Red List evaluators
Butchart, S., Taylor, J.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Rallus madagascariensis. Downloaded from on 21/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 21/10/2016.

This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000) Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004) Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife

To contribute to discussions on the evaluation of the IUCN Red List status of Globally Threatened Birds, please visit BirdLife's Globally Threatened Bird Forums.

Additional resources for this species

ARKive species - Madagascar rail (Rallus madagascariensis) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Vulnerable
Family Rallidae (Rails, Gallinules, Coots)
Species name author Verreaux, 1833
Population size 2500-9999 mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 16,500 km2
Country endemic? Yes
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species