Inaccessible Island rail

How did these flightless birds get to the Inaccessible Island? – Well, that’s still a mystery

Brian Gratwicke

The Inaccessible Island rail, also known as the Inaccessible rail, is a remarkable example of an island endemic species found exclusively on Inaccessible Island in the South Atlantic Ocean. Despite their small size and flightless nature, these birds have managed to thrive in the remote and isolated environment of their island home.

One of the most intriguing aspects of the Inaccessible Island rail is its unique evolutionary history. While it is flightless today, genetic analysis suggests that its ancestors were capable of flight and likely arrived on the island through natural dispersal events. Over time, the absence of predators and ample food resources on the island led to the loss of flight as these rails adapted to their safe and secure environment. This phenomenon, known as insular dwarfism and flightlessness, is not uncommon among island-dwelling birds and reflects the evolutionary pressures unique to isolated ecosystems.

Despite their inability to fly, Inaccessible Island rails have developed a variety of adaptations to thrive in their environment. Their small size and cryptic plumage provide excellent camouflage among the island’s vegetation, allowing them to evade detection by potential predators such as birds of prey. Additionally, their ground-dwelling lifestyle minimizes the risk of predation and provides opportunities for efficient foraging and nesting.

Speaking of nesting, the breeding behavior of Inaccessible Island rails is another fascinating aspect of their biology. These birds construct their nests on the ground, typically using vegetation and other available materials to create a shallow depression where they lay their eggs. Both parents play an active role in incubating the eggs and caring for the young, demonstrating a strong level of parental investment in the reproductive process.


Population est.
Saint Helena (UK)
Official estimate
Tristan Da Cunha

Anything we've missed?

Help us improve this page by suggesting edits. Glory never dies!

Suggest an edit

Get to know me

Terrestrial / Aquatic

Altricial / Precocial

Polygamous / Monogamous

Dimorphic (size) / Monomorphic

Active: Diurnal / Nocturnal

Social behavior: Solitary / Pack / Herd / Flock

Diet: Carnivore / Herbivore / Omnivore / Piscivorous / Insectivore

Migratory: Yes / No

Domesticated: Yes / No

Dangerous: Yes / No