Brown Wood-rail Aramides wolfi


Justification of Red List Category
This species occurs in a region subject to rapid rates of habitat destruction, and thus is suspected to be undergoing a rapid population decline. Furthermore, it is known from a small number of locations, and the extent and area of its range must be declining. It is therefore classified as Vulnerable.

Population justification
The population is preliminarily estimated to number 1,000-2,499 mature individuals, equating to 1,500-3,749 individuals in total, rounded here to 1,500-4,000 individuals. This requires confirmation.

Trend justification
A rapid and on-going population decline is suspected on the basis of rates of habitat loss.

Distribution and population

Aramides wolfi is known from west Colombia (Cauca and Chocó), west Ecuador (Esmeraldas, Imbabura, Pichincha, Los Ríos, Guayas and El Oro) and possibly north-west Peru (Tumbes). There are a few recent records from Ecuador (Cayapas-Mataje Mangrove Reserve, Humedales de Yalare, Río Ónzole, Quinindé, Pedro Vicente Maldonado, Jatun Sacha - Bilsa, Río Palenque and Manglares-Churute Ecological Reserve) (Clay et al. 1994, P. Coopmans in litt. 1998, J. F. Freile in litt. 2000, Ridgely and Greenfield 2001, Jahn et al. 2002, O. Jahn in litt. 2007), but elsewhere it has become extremely rare and local (Ridgely and Greenfield 2001, Athanas and Greenfield 2016). Population estimates are lacking but eight pairs and six solitary birds were recorded at Bilsa Biological Station, Esmeraldas, in 2007 (L. Carrasco per R.Clay in litt. 2007). In Colombia, most records originate from the Serranía de Baudó, the most recent report (March 1996) coming from Ensenada de Utría National Park, Chocó, which holds a potentially large population (Porteous and Acevedo 1996). The single (potential) record for Peru was at Puerto Pizarro, Tumbes, in September 1977 (Graves 1982).


It has been recorded most frequently in mangroves, but has also been found in forest, secondary growth, forested river edges, riverine marsh and swampy woodland, up to 1,300 m (Taylor and van Perlo 1998).


Its decline is attributed to extensive habitat loss, particularly of mangroves. Other lowland forest habitats in western Ecuador and Colombia have suffered rapid rates of destruction for over four decades, leaving less than 10% and 60% of original habitat cover in each country respectively (Dodson and Gentry 1991, Salaman 1994). In the San Lorenzo area, Esmeraldas, which lies at the border of the Cayapas-Mataje Mangrove Reserve, the area planted with oil palms rose from only 3 km2 in 1998 to 225 km2 (+900% per year) in 2007 (Cárdenas 2007), with a further 275-315 km2 due to be converted in the near future (J. Mew verbally 2000). Other agricultural activities and shrimp farming are also on the rise, with an increase in area from 98 km2 to 280 km2 (+20.5% per year) and 19 km2 to 32 km2 (+7.64% per year), respectively (Cárdenas 2007). In the last decade, annual deforestation rates of lowland evergreen forest (<300 m) were 3.8% and accumulated loss of primary forest >38% in the same period (Cárdenas 2007). The extension of the neighbouring mangroves and Guandal forests (the latter is a unique periodically inundated swampy forest type in the lower río Cayapas-Santiago-Mataje drainages), were reduced by >24% and 13% respectively (Cárdenas 2007) and non-forested swamps and wetlands shrunk by 64% in the last decade (Cárdenas 2007). It seems likely that riverine forest would suffer above-average rates of destruction. The causes, both past and present, are road construction and associated colonisation and deforestation, commercial logging, mining, conversion to oil-palm and coca plantations, and other agricultural land-uses (arable and livestock), grazing in remnant forest patches and other developments such as dams, pipelines and military installations (Dinerstein et al. 1995, Wege and Long 1995, Salaman and Stiles 1996, Bowen-Jones et al. 1999).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
There are recent records from Ensenada de Utría National Park (Colombia); Cayapas-Mataje Mangrove, Mache-Chindul, and Manglares-Churute Ecological Reserves, and Jatun Sacha Bilsa Biological Reserve (Ecuador) (Clay et al. 1994, Porteous and Acevedo 1996, P. Coopmans in litt. 1998, L.Carrasco per R.Clay in litt. 2007, O. Jahn in litt. 2007, Alava and Hasse 2011).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Surveys to locate additional sites for the species. Survey to assess its occurrence in Peru. Research its precise ecological requirements (Taylor 1996). Consolidate protection of the Cayapas-Mataje Mangrove, Mache-Chindul, and Manglares Churute ecological reserves through law enforcement against illegal shrimp farming, palm plantations (coconut and oil palm), logging, hunting, and colonization inside the reserves and sustainable management projects in their buffer zones (O. Jahn in litt. 2007). Develop a participatory action plan for the conservation and sustainable management of the unique Guandal swamp forests of Esmeraldas (O. Jahn in litt. 2007). Develop a participatory action plan for the conservation and sustainable management of the of the Río Ónzole drainage, ideally as an integral part of a proposal for a large biosphere reserve in Esmeraldas (O. Jahn in litt. 2007). Assess the efficiency of the IBA network and identify new sites.


33-36 cm. Medium-sized, mostly rufous-brown rail. Ashy-grey head with whitish throat. Cinnamon-rufous neck, upper back and underparts. Rest of upperparts and underparts pale olivaceous-brown. Black rump, tail and vent. Red legs and iris. Green bill. Yellow frontal shield. Similar spp. Rufous-necked Wood-rail A. axillaris is much redder below, has wholly reddish head and grey in upper back. Voice Rhythmic series of far-carrying hollow and nasal cjuí-cjuí-cjuí and cjuo-cjuo-cjuo notes (Jahn et al. 2002) (similar to that of Grey-necked Woodrail A. cajanea), with some variants.


Text account compilers
Benstead, P., Capper, D., Isherwood, I., Jahn, O., Sharpe, C J, Stuart, T., Symes, A.

Jahn, O., Alava , J., Freile, J., Mew, J., Coopmans, P., Clay, R.P.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Species factsheet: Aramides wolfi. Downloaded from on 08/06/2023. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2023) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 08/06/2023.