Other Names (World)
Lewin's Rail, Water Rail, Lewin's Water Rail, Slate-breasted Rail, Slate-breasted Water Rail, Pectoral Rail, Pectoral Water Rail, Short-toed Rail, Short-toed Water Rail
Rallidae (Rails, Gallinules, Coots)
18 - 27 cm
Rall'-us - N.L., rail: pec-tor-ä'-lis - L., breasted
swamps, and vegatation-choked margins of streams.
Australia, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea.
Coastal eastern and south-eastern Australia to south-eastern South Australia, Kangaroo Island and Tasmania. Also rare in south-western Australia.
Estimated population is 30,000 (2020) and decreasing.
See also EPBC Act List of Threatened Fauna for subspecies clelandi (western - extinct).
Singly or in pairs.
Worms, freshwater snails and insects.
A sharp, 'loud, 'krek' given as a burst of calls, becoming faster and louder then fades away. Also a whistle, very loud in a series of up to 50.
August - January.
Open, composed of dried, coarse grass-stalks, low in a tussock of grass.
4 - 6; cream with blotches of red-brown and purple-grey; oval; about 35 x 26 mm. Incubation: about 19 - 21 days; by female.
Lewin's Rail (Lewinia pectoralis) and Auckland Rail (Lewinia muelleri) (Sibley and Monroe 1990, 1993) are retained as separate species contra Turbott (1990) who include muelleri as a subspecies of Lewin's Rail (Lewinia pectoralis). This treatment is under review by the BirdLife Taxonomic Working Group.
Forms superspecies with Brown-banded Rail (Lewinia mirifica) and Auckland Rail (Lewinia muelleri), both of which are on occasion considered subspecies of this species.
The following 9 subspecies are recognised:
- pectoralis (Temminck, 1831) - Southern Qld, NSW, Vic., SA, Australia.
- exsul (Hartert, 1898) - Flores (Lesser Sundas).
- mayri (Hartert, 1930) - Arfak Mts, western New Guinea.
- capta (Mayr and Gilliard, 1951) - Central New Guinea.
- insulsa (Greenway, 1935) - Herzog Mts, eastern New Guinea.
- alberti (Rothschild & Hartert, 1907) - Mountains of south-eastern New Guinea.
- clelandi ! (Mathews, 1911) - South-western Australia (probably extinct).
- brachipus (Swainson, 1838) - Tasmania.
- muelleri (Rothschild, 1893) - Auckland Islands (Adams and Disappointment). Considered by some authors to be a distinct species, Auckland Rail (Lewinia muelleri).
Adults and juveniles with Buff-banded Rail (Hypotaenidia philippensis) which is larger and bulkier with a longer tail and a shorter, stouter, red-brown bill, white eyebrow, buff breasted, and undertail more boldly barred black and white and Australian Spotted Crake (Porzana fluminea) which is slightly smaller, more compact, with a shorter neck, longer tail, short stout greenish bill, and greenish legs and feet.