Lewinia pectoralis ssp. clelandi (Mathews)

Cleland’s Rail (Lewinia pectoralis ssp. clelandi)

Lewin’s Rail (Lewinia pectoralis (Temminck)) is a ca. 25 cm large bird found in Australia, New Guinea and some parts of the so-called Wallacea; at least eight subspecies are known to exists.


The form discussed here, Cleland’s Rail, was endemic to a small region in the far south-west of Western Australia, where it inhabited dense vegetation around saline-, brackish- and freshwater wetlands. This form differed from the nominate (see photo below) by its larger size, its longer and deeper beak and by its breast plumage being clearer grey, with only small olive-buff feather tips.

Cleland’s Rail was probably always a rather rare form, it became finally extinct when its wetland habitats were destroyed, mainly through drainage and clearance burning for agriculture and settlement; the form was last seen in 1932.


Photo: matthewlh



[1] Barry Taylor, Ber van Perlo: Rails: A Guide to the Rails, Crakes, Gallinules and Coots of the World. Yale University Press 1998


edited: 17.02.2024