Guadalcanal Rail Hypotaenidia woodfordi


Justification of Red List Category
This species may have a moderately small population (although this remains unconfirmed), however it appears to benefit from ongoing forest loss and degradation and its population may be increasing. The species is therefore listed as Least Concern.

Population justification
The population was previously suspected to number 2,500-9,999 mature individuals, although there was no real basis for this figure. The population is here considered unknown until surveys are carried out, however it is apparently quite common in damp rank grassy areas left after logging based on playback responses (J. Wood pers. comm. 2020), even in areas with a high abundance of stray dogs.

Trend justification
The population trend is poorly known, but suspected to be stable or perhaps increasing. This species apparently thrives in damp grassy areas left after logging (J. Wood pers. comm. 2020), which is ongoing (albeit at a slow rate) in the lowlands of Guadalcanal (Global Forest Watch [2021] using the methods of Hansen et al. [2013] disclosed therein). Given its apparent co-existence with a high density of stray dogs (J. Wood pers. comm. 2020) there is no reason to suspect these are driving a continuing decline. However, this trend should be confirmed using survey data.

Distribution and population

Hypotaenidia woodfordi is known to be extant on Guadalcanal and may be present on Malaita, Solomon Islands, although the latter population is undescribed (Dutson 2011).


It had been assumed to be a species of lowland forest, as supported by records from Guadalcanal in patchy forest (Webb 1992, G. Dutson pers. obs. 1998); however, it was recently found to be common in areas of damp tussock grassland (J. Wood pers. comm. 2020) and so may be rather adaptable to habitat degradation. 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).


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. 1994, J. Wood pers. comm. 2020). The loss of lowland forests is apparently facilitating the creation of grassy habitats.

Conservation actions

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 to determine population size. Survey its status through interviews with local villagers. Determine its occurrence on Malaita. Ascertain its habitat requirements. Investigate threats and ecology through discussions with villagers. Reduce levels of trapping though community education programmes.


30 cm. Medium-sized, dark rail. Flightless. Mostly black plumage with pale grey head, many white spots on wing edges and white barring on lower flanks. Bill is black, and the legs are dark grey. Similar spp. Other Hypotaenidia (previously lumped with this species are very similar: H. tertia has a yellow-horn bill and a black head, H. immaculata has no white barring on the flanks and lower wing edgings and an ivory-horn bill. Juvenile Purple Swamphen Porphyrio porphyrio are uniform black with stubby bills. Philippine Bush-hen Amaurornis olivacea 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


Text account compilers
Martin, R., Berryman, A.

Bishop, K.D., Diamond, J.M., Dutson, G., Hamilton, S., Loyn, R.H., Mahood, S., Scofield, P., Stattersfield, A., Symes, A., Tully, D.M., Webb, H.P. & Wood, J.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Species factsheet: Hypotaenidia woodfordi. Downloaded from on 26/03/2023. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2023) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 26/03/2023.