This species is classified as Near Threatened because it has a moderately small population in a small range, and it is thought to be undergoing a decline owing to habitat degradation and predation by introduced mammals. However, the range is spread over several islands, so it is not severely fragmented or restricted to few locations.
Sibley, C. G.; Monroe, B. L. 1990. Distribution and taxonomy of birds of the world. Yale University Press, New Haven, USA.
Nesoclopeus woodfordi, N. tertius and N. immaculatus (del Hoyo et al. 2013) were previously lumped as N. woodfordi following Sibley and Monroe (1990, 1993).
Distribution and populationNesoclopeus woodfordi
30 cm. Medium-sized, dark rail. Flightless. All dark brown or black plumage with variable pale fringes on flanks and vent and a grey head on Guadalcanal birds. Bill is usually pale cream or ivory but dark on Guadalcanal. Pale grey legs. Similar spp. Juvenile Purple Swamphen Porphyrio porphyrio are uniform black with stubby bills. Rufous-tailed Bush-hen Amaurornis olivaceus has olive upperparts, buffy-rufous undertail and yellow-green bill and legs. Voice Series of kik-kik notes, single ki notes and an explosive, squealed ngowh. Hints Arrange a visit to the Garana River with local guides.
occurs on Bougainville in Papua New Guinea
, Santa Isabel, Guadalcanal and possibly Choiseul in the Solomon Islands
(Mayr 1949, J. M. Diamond in litt.
1987). Recent sightings include five records from Guadalcanal and a series of records from the vicinity of Buala on Santa Isabel (Kaestner 1987, Webb 1992,
K. D. Bishop in litt.
1994, G. Dutson pers. obs. 1998, Hornbuckle 1999a,
H. P. Webb in litt.
1999). On Bougainville there were two sightings (Kaestner 1987, K. D. Bishop in litt.
1994) of Woodford's rail in 60 years prior to 1999. However, in 1999 Woodford's rails were reported as common and "thriving" throughout the entire eastern lowlands of Bougainville; a result of a large population increase during the seccessionist uprising of 1989-1997 (Hadden 2002)
. There has also been an increase in numbers in coastal north Guadalcanal (G. Dutson pers. obs. 2002)
. On Santa Isabel, it is locally common, notably along the Garana River where three pairs were heard and one seen along a 2 km path, in 1998 (G. Dutson pers. obs. 1998). Local reports indicate that it is rather uncommon in other degraded habitats and rare in forest in the vicinity (Webb 1992, G. Dutson pers. obs. 1998). There are also recent unconfirmed records from Malaita (Webb 1992, R. H. Loyn and D. M. Tully per
P. Scofield in litt.
1994), but records from New Georgia (Sibley 1951, Blaber 1990) and Kolombanagara (Finch 1985)
refer to Roviana Rail Gallirallus rovianae
(Diamond 1991, Gibbs 1996, G. Dutson pers. obs. 1998). Population justification
Hadden (2002) estimated the population to number over 10,000 individuals and to be common, thriving and encountered everywhere. It is placed in the band 10,000-19,999 individuals here, equating to 6,667-13,333 mature individuals, rounded here to 6,000-15,000 mature individuals.Trend justification
There are no data on population trends; however, habitat degradation and re-settlement of previously occupied areas on Bougainville is suspected to be causing a decline, although the likely rate of decline has not been estimated.Ecology
It had been assumed to be a species of lowland forest, as supported by two records from Bougainville in lowland swamp-forest (Kaestner 1987, K. D. Bishop in litt.
1994) and from Guadalcanal in patchy forest (Webb 1992, G. Dutson pers. obs. 1998)
. However, it is reported to be rare in primary forest on Isabel (there is no swamp-forest at this site) where it prefers dense, grassy thickets mixed with forest and secondary forest thickets, including abandoned gardens, especially close to rivers (Webb 1992,
G. Dutson pers. obs. 1998). On Bougainville Woodford's rail thrives in 2 m-tall grass and shrub thickets in and around Arawa. These habitats increased greatly during the war as grassed areas and coconut plantations were abandoned (Hadden 2002)
. It may nest at any time of the year (Hadden 2002)
and may do so near to streams (Webb 1992)
. It is said to be omnivorous (Webb 1992) and has been observed wading into streams to feed (Hadden 2002). Threats
As a flightless species, it may be susceptible to predation by cats and dogs, exacerbated by incidental capture by hunting dogs and in traps, but it appears to survive, at least locally, close to villages and predators (Webb 1992, K. D. Bishop in litt.
. Development associated with the progressing peace agreement is likely to lead to grassy habitats disappearing quickly. This may eliminate Woodford's Rail from this coastal area again (S. Hamilton in litt.
. Lowland forest is being extensively logged throughout its range. Conservation Actions Underway
No specific measures have been implemented. It occurs within Queen Elizabeth National Park on Guadalcanal, but there is no enforced protection of this site which is highly degraded.Conservation Actions Proposed
Survey with playback of tape-recordings across it range. Survey its status through interviews with local villagers. Determine its occurrence on Choiseul and Malaita. Ascertain its habitat requirements. Monitor numbers around Buala, Garana and Queen Elizabeth National Park. Investigate threats and ecology through discussions with villagers. Reduce levels of trapping though community education programmes. Conduct a population survey on Bougainville and survey areas inland from the coastal road and along west coast of the island to determine whether suitable habitat exists and whether the rail is present here (S. Hamilton in litt.
Blaber, S. J. M. 1990. A checklist and notes on the current status of birds of New Georgia, Western Province, Solomon Islands. Emu 90: 205-214.
Diamond, J. 1991. A new species of rail from the Solomon Islands and convergent evolution of insular flightlessness. The Auk 108: 461-470.
Finch, B. W. 1985. Noteworthy observations in Papua New Guinea and the Solomons. Papua New Guinea Bird Society Newsletter 215: 6-10.
Gibbs, D. 1996. Notes on Solomon Island birds. Bulletin of the British Ornithologists' Club 116: 18-25.
Hadden, D. 2002. Woodford's rail (Nesoclopeus woodfordi) on Bougainville Island, Papua New Guinea. Notornis 49(part 2): 115-121.
Hornbuckle, J. 1999. Birding in Melanesia: 3 May - July 1999.
Kaestner, P. 1987. Some observations from lowland swamp forest in south Bougainville. Muruk 2(1): 34-38.
Mayr, E. 1949. Notes on the birds of northern Melanesia, 2. American Museum Novitates 1417.
Sibley, C. G. 1951. Notes on the birds of New Georgia, central Solomon Islands. Condor 53: 81-92.
Webb, H. P. 1992. Field observations of the birds of Santa Isabel, Solomon Islands. Emu 92: 52-57.
Text account compilers
Derhé, M., Dutson, G., Mahood, S., O'Brien, A., Pilgrim, J., Stattersfield, A.
Bishop, P., Diamond, J., Dutson, G., Hamilton, S., Loyn, R., Scofield, P., Tully, D., Webb, H.
IUCN Red List evaluators
Butchart, S., Symes, A.
BirdLife International (2014) Species factsheet: Nesoclopeus woodfordi. Downloaded from
http://www.birdlife.org on 10/03/2014.
Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2014) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from
http://www.birdlife.org on 10/03/2014.
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
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