Family Rails, Gallinules, Coots (Rallidae)


Lord Howe Woodhen (Hypotaenidia sylvestris)


French: Râle sylvestre German: Waldralle Spanish: Rascón de la Lord Howe
Other common names: Lord Howe Rail

Ocydromus sylvestris

P. L. Sclater

, 1870,

Lord Howe Island


Sometimes placed in Tricholimnas, Gallirallus or Rallus. Includes H. (Tricholimnas) conditicius, known from one specimen and sometimes thought to be a distinct species, but now generally regarded as an immature of present species. Monotypic.


Lord Howe I.

Descriptive notes

Male 34–42 cm, 410–780 (536) g, wingspan 49–52 cm; female 32–37 cm, 330–615 (456) g, wingspan 47–49 cm. Flightless, with short tail and... read more


Advertising call a loud, repeated piercing whistle “coo-eet”, often given in duet by pair, and... read more


Subtropical forest. Before human settlement, probably occurred over most of island at low to high... read more

Food and feeding

Mainly worms, crustaceans and insect larvae; also molluscs, myriapods, spiders and Hemiptera. Takes eggs and chicks of shearwaters, petrels... read more


Normally lays Aug–Jan; one lowland pair laid 11 times in 18 months, Jan 1982 to Jun 1983. Monogamous and permanently territorial;... read more


Largely sedentary, but birds move from mountains to lower areas, such movements taking place at... read more

Status and conservation

ENDANGERED. CITES I. When island first discovered in 1788, species was apparently widespread and common, particularly in lowlands, but in 1853, only 19 years after settlement... read more

Recommended citation

Taylor, B. & Sharpe, C.J. (2019). Lord Howe Woodhen (Hypotaenidia sylvestris). 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 7 December 2019).