Family Rails, Gallinules, Coots (Rallidae)

Least Concern

Lewin's Rail (Lewinia pectoralis)


French: Râle à poitrine grise German: Krickralle Spanish: Rascón pectoral

Rallus pectoralis


, 1831,

New South Wales, Australia


Sometimes placed in Dryolimnas or Rallus. Closely related to L. mirifica and L. muelleri, both of which are on occasion considered races of present species (for differences, see both). A rail lacking white bars on primaries, originally described as subspecies deignani of present species, is in fact an aberrant individual of nominate race of L. striata#R. Proposed race connectens (from Wissel Lakes region of W New Guinea) is synonymized with mayri. Seven extant subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • L. p. exsul (E. J. O. Hartert, 1898) – Flores (Lesser Sundas).
  • L. p. mayri (E. J. O. Hartert, 1930) – Arfak Mts, and Weyland Mts (Wissel Lakes), in W New Guinea.
  • L. p. capta (Mayr & Gilliard, 1951) – mountains of C New Guinea.
  • L. p. insulsa (Greenway, 1935) – Herzog Mts, in E New Guinea.
  • L. p. alberti (Rothschild & E. J. O. Hartert, 1907) – mountains of SE New Guinea.
  • L. p. clelandi (Mathews, 1911) – SW Australia.
  • L. p. pectoralis (Temminck, 1831) – E & SE Australia.
  • L. p. brachipus (Swainson, 1838) – Tasmania.
  • Descriptive notes

    18–27cm; male 65–112 (88) g, female 63–111 (82) g, juvenile 42–78 (66) g; wingspan 31–35 cm. Female slightly smaller and has duller rufous head... read more


    Commonest calls an accelerating series of loud notes likened to two coins being tapped together,... read more


    In Australia most often occurs at freshwater to saline wetlands, either permanent or ephemeral and... read more

    Food and feeding

    Largely earthworms, molluscs and arthropods, especially insects and crustaceans; occasionally frogs and eggs of birds; takes some vegetable... read more


    Season in Australia usually Aug–Jan; in New Guinea breeds Sept–Mar, and possibly also Jun–Aug, during both rainy and dry... read more


    Virtually unknown, as sightings rare and observation difficult; seldom seen to fly. In Australia... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Race exsul known only from a few specimens from S & W Flores and last recorded in 1959. Race clelandi of SW... read more

    Recommended citation

    Taylor, B. (2020). Lewin's Rail (Lewinia pectoralis). 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 26 February 2020).