Family Rails, Gallinules, Coots (Rallidae)

Least Concern

Buff-banded Rail (Hypotaenidia philippensis)


French: Râle tiklin German: Bindenralle Spanish: Rascón filipino

Rallus philippensis


, 1766,



Sometimes placed in Rallus or Gallirallus. Closely related to H. owstoni, and perhaps also to H. rovianae; probably also to extinct †H. wakensis, †H. dieffenbachii, †H. pacifica and perhaps †Cabalus modestus. Form †dieffenbachii sometimes included as a race, but now generally considered specifically distinct. Great geographical variation over huge range, with up to 26 subspecies recognized; validity of some races, e.g. tounelieri, questionable in view of individual plumage variation, minor sexual size differences, and changes due to age and wear; proposed race chandleri (from Sulawesi) subsumed within nominate, possible race wahgiensis (C highlands of New Guinea) included in reducta, and norfolkensis (Norfolk I), australis (E Australia) and some yorki (from N Queensland, Australia) in mellori, while other yorki (from islands off SE New Guinea) in tounelieri. Twenty-one extant subspecies currently recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • H. p. andrewsi (Mathews, 1911) – Cocos (Keeling) Is.
  • H. p. philippensis (Linnaeus, 1766) – Philippines; Sulawesi E to Buru; and Sumba (race uncertain), Alor, Sawu, Roti and Timor; recorded recently (perhaps this race) in Borneo (W Sabah, West Kalimantan)#R#R.
  • H. p. pelewensis (Mayr, 1933) – Palau Is.
  • H. p. xerophila (van Bemmel & Hoogerwerf, 1940) – Gunungapi (NC Lesser Sundas).
  • H. p. wilkinsoni (Mathews, 1911) – Flores.
  • H. p. lacustris (Mayr, 1938) – N New Guinea.
  • H. p. randi (Mayr & Gilliard, 1951) – Snow Mts, in WC New Guinea.
  • H. p. reducta (Mayr, 1938) – C highlands and NE coastal New Guinea, including Long I.
  • H. p. anachoretae (Mayr, 1949) – NW Bismarck Archipelago, in Pelleluhu Atoll (Ninigo Is), Kaniet (Anchorite) Is and Hermit Is.
  • H. p. admiralitatis Stresemann, 1929 – Admiralty Is.
  • H. p. praedo (Mayr, 1949) – Skoki I, off SW Manus (Admiralty Is).
  • H. p. lesouefi (Mathews, 1911) – New Hanover, Tabar Is and Tanga Is, and possibly New Ireland (Bismarck Archipelago).
  • H. p. meyeri E. J. O. Hartert, 1930 – New Britain and Witu Is (Bismarck Archipelago).
  • H. p. christophori (Mayr, 1938) – Solomon Is.
  • H. p. mellori (Mathews, 1912) – Moluccas, S & SW New Guinea, Australia and Norfolk I.
  • H. p. assimilis (G. R. Gray, 1843) – New Zealand (including Stewart I).
  • H. p. macquariensis (F. W. Hutton, 1879) – Macquarie I (recently extinct).
  • H. p. tounelieri (Schodde & de Naurois, 1982) – Coral Sea islets, from SE New Guinea archipelagos and Great Barrier Reef E to Surprise Group (off N New Caledonia).
  • H. p. swindellsi (Mathews, 1911) – New Caledonia and Loyalty Is.
  • H. p. sethsmithi (Mathews, 1911) – Vanuatu and Fiji.
  • H. p. ecaudata (J. F. Miller, 1783) – Tonga.
  • H. p. goodsoni (Mathews, 1911) – Samoa and Niue I.
  • Descriptive notes

    25–33 cm; male 126–234 (mean 185) g, female 115–265 (172) g, unsexed 130–303 (189) g; wingspan 40–52 cm. Tail relatively long; distinguished... read more


    Repeated, squeaky, harsh “kreek” note, mostly heard in morning and evening, especially in breeding... read more


    Many types of wetland, including marshes, swamps, lakes, pans, rivers, streams, temporary... read more

    Food and feeding

    Worms, molluscs, crustaceans (including crabs), insects, spiders, small fish, frogs and tadpoles, eggs of birds and turtles, young of Sooty... read more


    Cocos (Keeling), Jan, May, Jun; Philippines, May, Nov; Lesser Sundas, Apr, Aug, but all year on Flores; Moluccas, Jul/Aug; New Guinea,... read more


    Regarded as sedentary throughout much of range but is widely dispersive and possibly also migratory... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Race andrewsi of Cocos (Keeling) Is regarded as Endangered, and became confined to North Keeling I, with total population of... read more

    Recommended citation

    Taylor, B. & Motis, A. (2020). Buff-banded Rail (Hypotaenidia philippensis). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 28 January 2020).