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Rouget's Rail Rougetius rougetii
BirdLife is updating this factsheet for the 2016 Red List
Please email us with any relevant information

This species is listed as Near Threatened because it is thought to be declining moderately rapidly owing to the modification of its habitats. Further data on population trends may show that the species qualifies for a higher threat category.

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.

Distribution and population
Rougetius rougetii is widespread in the highlands of Ethiopia, and much less widespread in those of Eritrea, from 1,500 to 4,100 m (Taylor and van Perlo 1998; Urban et al. 1986). It appears to have maintained its distribution but to have suffered a reduction in numbers (Ash and Gullick 1989; EWNHS (1996). Thus, during field surveys of Important Bird Areas in Ethiopia (1995-1996), it was considered uncommon or present only in small numbers at seven sites, and not uncommon or fairly common at two sites (EWNHS 1996). This contrasts with earlier records which refer to the species as widespread and common to locally abundant (Urban et al. 1986).

Population justification
Dodman (2005) estimated the population to number fewer than 10,000 individuals, and so it is placed here in the band 2,500-9,999 individuals. This equates to 1,667-6,666 mature individuals, rounded here to 1,500-7,000 mature individuals.

Trend justification
The population is suspected to be in decline owing to ongoing habitat destruction.

Behaviour This species is presumed to be sedentary in the absence of any evidence of migratory or dispersive movements (del Hoyo et al. 1996). It is generally monogamous and solitary, although some degree of cooperative breeding may take place (del Hoyo et al. 1996). It breeds from March to October (Taylor and van Perlo 1998; del Hoyo et al. 1996). Habitat Breeding It breeds in marshy areas within high altitude montane grasslands and moorlands (del Hoyo et al. 1996). It is found in areas with lush grass, reeds, tussocks and bushes along streams, around ponds and in Alchemilla bogs (Taylor and van Perlo 1998; del Hoyo et al. 1996). Non-breeding During the non-breeding season it is also found on dry ground among heaths and Alchemilla and adapts well to human-modified habitats such as lawns, shrubberies and thickets in parks and gardens (Taylor and van Perlo; 1998). In urban areas it is attracted to feed in areas where the grass has been recently mown, and often occurs in ditches and drainage channels in grass (Taylor and van Perlo 1998). It has also been recorded in relatively sparse cover along polluted streams (Taylor and van Perlo 1998). It has been recorded foraging in open meadows, on bare mud and in shallow water (Urban et al. 1986; del Hoyo et al. 1996). Diet It has a wide diet, including seeds and aquatic insects (especially water beetles; Urban et al. 1986), as well as crustaceans, small snails (del Hoyo et al. 1996) and earthworms (Taylor and van Perlo 1998) Breeding site The nest is a pad of dead rushes on wet ground among high rushes, in rushes over water, or in grass tussocks (Taylor and van Perlo 1998; del Hoyo et al. 1996). A clutch usually consists of four or five eggs (del Hoyo et al. 1996).

Although it can survive in heavily grazed and highly disturbed wet pasture, intensive grazing and mowing for building material, throughout the densely populated highlands, may be the cause of its apparent population reduction (Ash and Gullick 1989) owing to loss of vegetation cover making habitats unsuitable for use by the species (del Hoyo et al. 1996). In addition, grasslands are being converted to cereal fields, and droughts are likely to have had a negative effect on the species (del Hoyo et al. 1996).

Conservation Actions Underway
No actions are known for this species. Conservation Actions Proposed
Monitor population trends through regular surveys. Monitor rates of habitat loss within its range. Protect areas of important habitat.

Ash, J. S.; Gullick, T. M. 1989. The present situation regarding the endemic breeding birds of Ethiopia. Scopus 13: 90-96.

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

Dodman, T.; Sá, J. 2005. Waterbird monitoring in the Bijagós Archipelago, Guinea-Bissau. Wetlands International, Dakar.

EWNHS. 1996. Important Bird Areas of Ethiopia: a first inventory. Ethiopian Wildlife and Natural History Society, Addis Ababa.

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

Urban, E. K.; Fry, C. H.; Keith, S. 1986. The birds of Africa vol. II. Academic Press, London.

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
O'Brien, A., Robertson, P., Symes, A., Taylor, J.

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

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Rougetius rougetii. Downloaded from on 29/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 29/10/2016.

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 - Rouget’s rail (Rougetius rougetii) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Near Threatened
Family Rallidae (Rails, Gallinules, Coots)
Species name author (Guérin-Méneville, 1843)
Population size 1500-7000 mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 345,000 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species
- Projected distributions under climate change