Wednesday 22 May
Inaccessible rail (Atlantisia rogersi)
What’s the World’s Favourite Species?Find out here.
Inaccessible rail fact file
- Find out more
- Print factsheet
Inaccessible rail description
The Inaccessible rail (Atlantisia rogersi) is the smallest flightless bird in the world. It is characterised by the rusty-brown plumage of its upper body, dark grey underparts and the white barring on its flanks and belly. It also has grey legs, a short, black bill and red eyes. The juvenile Inaccessible rail typically has a brown body and dark eyes (2).
This species generally has a loud, quavering call, as well as other varying calls including a loud, harsh ‘chip’ alarm call (2).
- Length: 17 cm (2)
Inaccessible rail biology
The Inaccessible rail is a monogamous species, which breeds between October and January (2). This species lives in family groups within small territories, consisting of approximately 10 to 15 birds per hectare (5).
Built beneath a dense cover of vegetation, the Inaccessible rail’s nest is intricately woven from surrounding vegetation, and accessed via a track extending for up to half a metre (4). This species usually has a clutch of two eggs (2).Top
Inaccessible rail range
The Inaccessible rail is aptly named after the isolated island where it is found, occurring only on Inaccessible Island, Tristan Da Cunha (2). Located approximately 1,700 miles away from South Africa, Tristan Da Cunha is the remotest group of islands in the world (3).Top
Inaccessible rail habitat
The Inaccessible rail occupies virtually the whole of the volcanic Inaccessible Island. It can be found in most vegetation types, at different elevations and even on very steep slopes (4). However, it is most abundant in tussock grassland, further away from cliffs and in the open fern-bush on the plateau (2). The Inaccessible rail also tends to inhabit areas where it can take shelter in tunnels when breeding, such as among boulders and lowland vegetation (5).Top
Inaccessible rail status
The Inaccessible rail is classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List (1).Top
Inaccessible rail threats
Despite its abundance, the Inaccessible rail has been classed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List since 1994, largely due to its restricted island distribution. Small islands are at permanent risk from chance events such as the accidental introduction of alien species from neighbouring islands, as well as disease and natural disasters (2).
Chick mortality as a result of predation by the Tristan thrush (Nesocichla eremita) is relatively common; however, it does not pose a major threat to the Inaccessible rail population. There is, however, significant risk of Inaccessible Island being colonised by other predators such as the black rat (Rattus rattus) from Tristan Da Cunha, which could have a dramatic effect on the Inaccessible rail population (2).Top
Inaccessible rail conservation
The island on which the Inaccessible rail occurs is a designated nature reserve, and has restricted access (5).
Various conservation measures to protect the Inaccessible rail have been proposed, including surveys to obtain a current population estimate, in conjunction with monitoring of population trends. More research into the main causes of mortality is required, and strict controls need to be applied to visits to the island to minimize the risk of colonisation by introduced species (2).
Finally, it would be beneficial to promote awareness about the dangers to the Inaccessible rail of introducing alien species through inter-island transfers (2).Top
Find out more
Learn more about the conservation of species on Inaccessible Island:
RSPB - Inaccessible Island Seabird Monitoring Manual:
This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact:
- Animals with no backbone, such as insects, crustaceans, worms, molluscs, spiders, cnidarians (jellyfish, corals, sea anemones) and echinoderms.
- Having only one mate during a breeding season, or throughout the breeding life of a pair.
- An area occupied and defended by an animal, a pair of animals or a group.
IUCN Red List (December, 2011)
BirdLife International (December, 2011)
- Taylor, B. and van Perlo, B. (1998) Rails: A Guide to the Rails, Crakes, Gallinules and Coots of the World. Pica Press, Robertsbridge, UK.
- Collar, N.J. and Stuart, S.N. (1985) Threatened Birds of Africa and Related Islands: the ICBP/IUCN Red Data Book. International Council for Bird Preservation, and IUCN, Cambridge, UK, and Gland, Switzerland.
MyARKive offers the scrapbook feature to signed-up members, allowing you to organize your favourite ARKive images and videos and share them with friends.
Terms and Conditions of Use of Materials
Copyright in this website and materials contained on this website (Material) belongs to Wildscreen or its licensors.
Visitors to this website (End Users) are entitled to:
- view the contents of, and Material on, the website;
- download and retain copies of the Material on their personal systems in digital form in low resolution for their own personal use;
- teachers, lecturers and students may incorporate the Material in their educational material (including, but not limited to, their lesson plans, presentations, worksheets and projects) in hard copy and digital format for use within a registered educational establishment, provided that the integrity of the Material is maintained and that copyright ownership and authorship is appropriately acknowledged by the End User.
End Users shall not copy or otherwise extract, alter or manipulate Material other than as permitted in these Terms and Conditions of Use of Materials.
Additional use of flagged material
Green flagged material
Certain Material on this website (Licence 4 Material) displays a green flag next to the Material and is available for not-for-profit conservation or educational use. This material may be used by End Users, who are individuals or organisations that are in our opinion not-for-profit, for their not-for-profit conservation or not-for-profit educational purposes. Low resolution, watermarked images may be copied from this website by such End Users for such purposes. If you require high resolution or non-watermarked versions of the Material, please contact Wildscreen with details of your proposed use.
Creative commons material
Certain Material on this website has been licensed to Wildscreen under a Creative Commons Licence. These images are clearly marked with the Creative Commons buttons and may be used by End Users only in the way allowed by the specific Creative Commons Licence under which they have been submitted. Please see http://creativecommons.org for details.
Any other use
Please contact the copyright owners directly (copyright and contact details are shown for each media item) to negotiate terms and conditions for any use of Material other than those expressly permitted above. Please note that many of the contributors to ARKive are commercial operators and may request a fee for such use.
Save as permitted above, no person or organisation is permitted to incorporate any copyright material from this website into any other work or publication in any format (this includes but is not limited to: websites, Apps, CDs, DVDs, intranets, extranets, signage, digital communications or on printed materials for external or other distribution). Use of the Material for promotional, administrative or for-profit purposes is not permitted.