Family Rails, Gallinules, Coots (Rallidae)

Least Concern

New Guinea Flightless Rail (Megacrex inepta)


French: Râle géant German: Baumralle Spanish: Rascón inepto

Megacrex inepta

D’Albertis and Salvadori

, 1879,

Fly River, New Guinea


Previously thought to be close to Habroptila wallacii, which is its ecological counterpart in N Moluccas; sometimes placed in Habroptila or in Amaurornis, and probably derived from latter. Two subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • M. i. pallida Rand, 1938 – NC New Guinea from Idenburg R to Sepik R.
  • M. i. inepta D’Albertis & Salvadori, 1879 – SC New Guinea from Setekwa R and Lorentz R to Digul R and Fly R.
  • Descriptive notes

    36–38 cm. Sexes alike. Large, powerful flightless rail, with long heavy legs and very short, decomposed tail; easily distinguished from sympatric rallids on structure,... read more


    Harsh but shrill call “aaah-aaah”, reminiscent of the squeal of a baby pig; also a short... read more


    Mangrove forests, wet thickets, swamp forest and riverine bamboo thickets in lowlands.

    Food and feeding

    Nothing recorded.


    Undescribed; two downy young obtained at L Daviumbu, near R Fly in Sept (latter part of dry season). Downy chick is black on head, and... read more


    None recorded.

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Poorly known, and previously assessed as Data Deficient, and subsequently Near Threatened. Very rarely seen, but may be locally... read more

    Recommended citation

    Taylor, B. & Sharpe, C.J. (2020). New Guinea Flightless Rail (Megacrex inepta). 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 5 April 2020).