National recovery plan for the Lord Howe Woodhen (Gallirallus sylvestris)

NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, 2002

2. Description

The Lord Howe Woodhen was formally described by Sclater as Ocydromus sylvestris (Proc. zool. Soc. Lond. 1869: 472). It is a medium-sized, flightless rail that inhabits the forest floor on Lord Howe Island. It has a body length of 30 to 40 cm (males 34 to 42 cm; females 32 to 37 cm) (Fullagar 1985). Adults weigh between 450 and 500 grams; males are typically 15% heavier than females and lowland birds 25% heavier than those on Mount Gower (R. Harden, NPWS, pers. comm.). It is generally dull olive brown with paler markings around the face (including grey flecks in birds > 7 yrs old). The primaries and secondaries (flight feathers) are bright chestnut with fine black barring. The Woodhen's pinkish-grey bill is slender, down-curved and slightly shorter or the same length as the head. Its legs are thick, with a pinkish grey-brown tarsus between 40 and 57 mm long (Marchant and Higgins 1993).