Family Rails, Gallinules, Coots (Rallidae)

Least Concern

Pale-vented Bush-hen (Amaurornis moluccana)


French: Râle des Moluques German: Rotsteiß-Kielralle Spanish: Gallineta moluqueña
Other common names: Rufous-tailed Bush-hen, Rufous-tailed Waterhen

Porzana moluccana


, 1865,

Ambon and Ternate, Moluccas


Formerly considered conspecific with A. olivacea, but sufficiently distinctive in plumage to merit separation. Four subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • A. m. moluccana (Wallace, 1865) – Sangihe and Talaud Is, Sula Is, Moluccas, W Papuan Is (Misool), and W & N New Guinea (including Biak I and Karkar I).
  • A. m. nigrifrons (E. J. O. Hartert, 1926) – Bismarck Archipelago and N & W Solomon Is (S to Guadalcanal).
  • A. m. ultima Mayr, 1949 – SE Solomon Is.
  • A. m. ruficrissa (Gould, 1869) – S & E New Guinea, and N, NE & E Australia.
  • Recently recorded (race uncertain) in Kai and Tanimbar Is.

    Descriptive notes

    23–30 cm; male ruficrissa 129–208 (177) g, ultima 189–248 g; female ultima 135–192 g, other races 161–205 (183) g;... read more


    Common call a loud shriek or wail, repeated 8–10 times; often given by pair in antiphonal... read more


    Dense stands of grass and reeds, sometimes bamboo, with pockets of dense bushes, near still or... read more

    Food and feeding

    Earthworms, Orthoptera, Coleoptera, Lepidoptera (adults and larvae), frogs; also vegetable matter, including seeds of grass (Poaceae) and... read more


    Bacan (Moluccas), Sept; New Guinea, Sept–Apr; Australia, Oct–Apr. Normally seen in pairs or family groups; probably monogamous... read more


    Considered resident over most of range, and recorded throughout range in all seasons. Possibly... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Formerly regarded as common and widespread in New Guinea, and common in Solomon Is (Santa Isabel). No current accurate estimates of... read more

    Recommended citation

    Taylor, B. (2020). Pale-vented Bush-hen (Amaurornis moluccana). 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 30 March 2020).