Gallirallus lafresnayanus

New Caledonian Rail; New Caledonian Wood-Rail
(Gallirallus lafresnayanus)

syn. Eulabeornis lafresnayanus, Ocydromus lafresnyanus, Rallus lafresnayanus, Tricholimnas lafresnayanus


New Caledonia: Grande Terre

local name: -

size: 45 - 48 cm (length)

extinction date: last confirmed sighting in 1890

The large, flightless New Caledonian Rail lived in the forests of Grande Terre, the main island of the New Caledonian Islands, which itself is very often erroneously named New Caledonia.

The habits of this species are known to some degree. So it is known that it could walk very quickly with its tail flicking up and down, furthermore it was good in climbing and jumping when it was chased. When it was in immediately danger it is said to have lain motionless, feigning death, whereby it easily fell victim to introduced predators like dogs and cats.

Beside vegetarian components the diet contained insects, molluscs and other animals, as long as they were small enough to be caught, in captivity the birds even captured rats.


The last specimen of this species was collected in the year 1890.

Nevertheless there were several unconfirmed sightings, the last of which in the year 1984, and some ornithologists have the dream of rediscovering the New Caledonian Rail alive some day.


New Caledonian Rail (Gallirallus lafresnayanus)

Depiction from 'Jottings during the cruise of H.M.S. Curacoa among the South Sea Islands in 1865 by Julius L. Brenchley. London: Longmans, Green, 1873'


- Dieter Luther: Die ausgestorbenen Vögel der Welt. Westarp Wissenschaften 1986
- Barry Taylor, Ber van Perlo: Rails: A Guide to the Rails, Crakes, Gallinules and Coots of the World. Yale University Press 1998
- David W. Steadman: Extinction and Biogeography of Tropical Pacific Birds. University Of Chicago Press 2006