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Wake Rail Hypotaenidia wakensis
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This species was known from Wake Island in the United States Minor Outlying Islands, but went Extinct in the mid-1940s, being last recorded in 1945 and never seen by an observer who took up residence in 1946. It is thought to have been hunted to extinction by Japanese soldiers that were stranded on the island.

Taxonomic source(s)
Brooks, T. 2000. Extinct species. In: BirdLife International (ed.), Threatened birds of the world, pp. 701-708. Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, Barcelona and Cambridge, U.K.
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.

Taxonomic note
Hypotaenidia wakensis (del Hoyo and Collar 2014) was previously placed in the genus Gallirallus.

Gallirallus wakensis (Rothschild, 1903)

Distribution and population
Gallirallus wakensis was endemic to Wake Island in the central Pacific Ocean, United States Minor Outlying Islands (to U.S.A.). Although it was not uncommon before the Second World War, it was extinct by 1946 (Greenway 1967).

The species inhabited scrub throughout the island. It fed by digging up leaves and soil with its head, being observed to take seeds, insects, small lizards and hermit crabs (Wetmore 1970, Olson 1996). Accounts suggest it bred between July and August, with the nest constructed as a saucer-like depression in the ground (Spencer 1959, Olson and Rauzon 2011). It had an unusual communal breeding system, with young attended and defended by groups of adults until well after hatching, presumably as an adaptation against potential nest predation by rats and crabs (Olson and Rauzon 2011).

It was presumably eaten to extinction by the starving Japanese garrison between 1942 and 1945 (Greenway 1967). Occasional inundations of the island during storms are also thought to have caused considerable mortality. The species is likely to have coexisted with rats since prehistoric times, and despite some suggestions it is not thought that rat predation was a factor in its extinction (Olson and Rauzon 2011).

Greenway, J. C. 1967. Extinct and vanishing birds of the world. Dover Publications, New York.

Olson, S. L. 1996. History and ornithological journals of the Tanager Expedition of 1923 to the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, Johnston and Wake islands. Atoll Research Bulletin 433: 1-210.

Olson, S. L.; Rauzon, M. J. 2011. The extinct Wake Island Rail Gallirallus wakensis: a comprehensive species account based on museum specimens and archival records. Wilson Journal of Ornithology 123(4): 663-689.

Spencer, H. J. 1959. Wake Island Rail Rallus wakensis.

Wetmore, A. 1970. Wake Island Rail Rallus wakensis (Rothschild).

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
Brooks, T., Khwaja, N., Mahood, S.

IUCN Red List evaluators
Butchart, S., Symes, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Hypotaenidia wakensis. Downloaded from on 22/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 22/10/2016.

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.

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Extinct
Family Rallidae (Rails, Gallinules, Coots)
Species name author (Rothschild, 1903)
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species