New Caledonian rail

Cabalus lafresnayanus

The New Caledonian rail (Gallirallus lafresnayanus) was a species of flightless bird in the Rallidae family that inhabited the tropical and subtropical rainforests of New Caledonia. Although confirmed to have existed, they were very elusive, with only 17 specimens being found in the 19th century. Because of the small number of witnesses, their behaviour and call was completely unknown, but based on their beak, they likely ate insects. 


The last of the 17 specimens was collected in 1890, and that was assumed to be the last one, and are thought to have gone extinct that year. Their populations probably began shrinking because of the introduction of pigs, as well as feral cats and dogs. Although the New Caledonian rail is usually considered extinct, there have been some sightings of them after their alleged extinction up until the 1960s. The last known sighting of a New Caledonian rail was in 1984.

An illustration of a New Caledonian rail

An illustration of a New Caledonian rail

A stuffed specimen of a New Caledonian rail

A stuffed specimen of a New Caledonian rail