Fun Calayan Rail Facts For Kids

Georgia Stone
Aug 29, 2023 By Georgia Stone
Originally Published on Oct 01, 2021
Calayan rail facts include a description of the bird.
Age: 3-18
Read time: 6.9 Min

The Calayan rail, with the scientific name Gallirallus calayanensis, is an endemic and flightless bird, with its range limited to the Calayan Island in the Philippines. This bird species belongs to the genus Gallirallus, the members of which are found in the Australasian and Pacific regions.

The Calayan rail is a compact bird, with mostly dull plumage. However, it has quite a bright orange-red bill and legs, which makes it stand out.

It is known to forage on the ground and feed on small invertebrates like snails and beetles. The calls given out by these birds sound very harsh and loud.

The habitat of these birds consists of primary and secondary forests. They are known to inhabit areas where the human population is low. Being limited to such a small region, the number of Calayan rails in the wild is quite low.

Additionally, their population is further endangered by ecological stresses. More research is necessary to maintain a viable presence of this species in the wild.

To learn more about the Calayan rail, keep reading! You can also check out facts about the Laysan rail and the Guam rail.

Calayan Rail Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a Calayan rail?

The Calayan rail (Gallirallus calayanensis ) is a variety of flightless bird, with a very small population distribution and geographical range.

What class of animal does a Calayan rail belong to?

The Calayan rail belongs to the class Aves. It is a member of the order Gruiformes, family Rallidae, and genus Gallirallus. The family Rallidae consists of crakes, gallinules, and coots.

How many Calayan rails are there in the world?

The population of the Calayan rails is has been assessed to be relatively stable by the International Union For Conservation Of Nature or IUCN and it is estimated to be between 2500-4300 mature birds. These birds occupy an area covering a distance of 34.8 sq. mi (90.2 sq. km).

Where does a Calayan rail live?

The Calayan rail (Gallirallus calayanensis ) bird is endemic to the Calayan Island in the Philippines. This island is a part of the Babuyan Island Group, which is located in the northern Philippines region. Being a sedentary species, the distribution and range of this bird are limited to the Calayan Island, only.

What is a Calayan rail's habitat?

The habitat of this Calayan rail species is characterized by forests. This bird inhabits the primary and secondary forests situated on the range of coralline limestones on Calayan Island. They have also been observed in degraded forests where low trees are present. It would also appear that these birds prefer to inhabit areas near streams.

Who do Calayan rails live with?

These birds are either seen singly or in small groups.

How long does a Calayan rail live?

The lifespan of the Calayan rail has not been recorded. However, another rail bird, belonging to the same order Gruiformes, family Rallidae, and the genus Rallus, known as the light-footed clapper rail, has a lifespan of two to four years in the wild. So, a similar life expectancy can be presumed in the Calayan rail species.

How do they reproduce?

Information regarding mating rituals and breeding patterns is yet to be established for this species. However, females are known to lay three eggs in their nests which are made on the ground. The nests are made using plant materials. The eggs have distinct markings and measure around 1.3 x 0.9 in (3.5 x 2.5 cm).

What is their conservation status?

The conservation status of this species of rails is marked as Vulnerable by the International Union For Conservation Of Nature or IUCN. The population of these birds is endangered due to the degradation of their natural habitat.

Other factors which can negatively affect the number of Calayan rails in the wild are hunting, conversion of their natural habitat into places of commercial value, and wood harvesting.

Calayan Rail Fun Facts

What do Calayan rails look like?

The red Calayan rail (Gallirallus calayanensis) is a compact and flightless bird with dark plumage. Its feathers appear dark olive in color, while the head and throat regions are blackish. The rump feathers are olive-brown toned, with blackish remiges or flight feathers.

This bird has orange-brown or dark brown irises, with a dull orange ring around the orbital region. The bill is orange-red in appearance and quite long and deep-based.

The legs and feet also appear to be orange-red. In this species, sexual dimorphism is not observed, meaning both male and female birds look alike. Additionally, juvenile birds also resemble adults, except they bear some white spots.

The Calayan rail has a loud and harsh call.*We've been unable to source an image of Calayan rail and have used an image of king rail instead. If you are able to provide us with a royalty-free image of Calayan rail, we would be happy to credit you. Please contact us at

How cute are they?

The Calayan rail is definitely a cute bird species, even more so due to its bright red bill and rarity in the wild.

How do they communicate?

The communication in this bird takes place through different calls. Its vocalization sounds loud and hoarse and has repetitions of 'ngeck' notes, which are uttered seven times a second. This call has been observed being given by individuals as well as small family groups. A 'skeet' vocalization has also been recorded, when this bird rushed for cover.

How big is a Calayan rail?

The length of a Calayan rail bird is usually around 11.8 in (30 cm). The wingspan in this species is between 5.9-6 in (15.1-15.4 cm). In comparison to the king rail, which measured between 15-19 in (38.1-48.2 cm), the Calayan rail is much smaller in size.

How fast can a Calayan rail fly?

The Calayan rail (Gallirallus calayanensis) is a flightless bird, so it is unable to fly. However, this bird has been observed to run off quickly if it feels threatened.

How much does a Calayan rail weigh?

The weight of a Calayan rail is around 8.6 oz (244 g). They are heavier than the Virginia rail, belonging to the same family Rallidae, which weighs between 2.3-3.3 oz (65-95 g).

What are the male and female names of the species?

Male and female birds of this species are known as male Calayan rail birds and female Calayan rail birds, respectively.

What would you call a baby Calayan rail?

A baby Calyan rail bird is known as a chick.

What do they eat?

Calayan rail birds are carnivorous, as snails, millipedes, and beetles have been found in their diet. They are known to forage on the ground, where they use their orange-red bill to overturn leaves.

Are they dangerous?

There are no instances to suggest the Calayan rail (Gallirallus calayanensis) is dangerous. In fact, when these birds were approached by biologists, some ran away giving an alarm call. However, in some cases, the birds were not as shy and were tolerant of being approached.

Would they make a good pet?

Given the extremely small distribution range of this species and its small population, it would be best to let these birds stay in their natural habitat.

Did you know...

The red Calayan rail species was first observed by Carmela Española, an ornithologist, in the year 2004. After their discovery was made, a formal description of this species appeared in a journal titled 'Forktail (Allen et al. 2004)'.

How many eggs does a Calayan rail lay?

Not a lot is known about the reproductive patterns of this bird. However, from the information that has been gathered, the nesting season is believed to take place in June.

Their nests are built on the ground with the use of plant materials like dry stems and leaves. These birds lay three eggs, which are pale pink in color, with patches of deep lilac and reddish-brown tones.

How to spot Calayan rail birds?

The plumage patterns of the Calayan rail (Gallirallus calayanensis) will certainly make it easier for anyone to spot this bird in the wild. The bodies of these birds are quite compact and dark olive in color with blackish heads and throats.

In contrast to the blackish head and throat, the chin is white in color.

Some other identifying features are pale covert feathers in the underwings with creamy-toned tips, blackish remiges, and orange-red legs, feet, and bill. In the case of the juvenile birds, they are nearly uniform in coloration but with some having whitish ear spots.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other birds with our Guam kingfisher fun facts and Eurasian moorhen surprising facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable bird coloring pages.

Main image by Greg Hume.

Second image by MPF.

*We've been unable to source an image of Calayan rail and have used an image of Guam rail instead. If you are able to provide us with a royalty-free image of Calayan rail, we would be happy to credit you. Please contact us at

Calayan Island in the Philippines

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Written by Georgia Stone

Bachelor of Arts specializing in French with Film Studies, Bachelor of Arts (Year Abroad) specializing in Literature, History, Language, Media, and Art

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Georgia StoneBachelor of Arts specializing in French with Film Studies, Bachelor of Arts (Year Abroad) specializing in Literature, History, Language, Media, and Art

Georgia is an experienced Content Manager with a degree in French and Film Studies from King's College London and Bachelors degree from Université Paris-Sorbonne. Her passion for exploring the world and experiencing different cultures was sparked during her childhood in Switzerland and her year abroad in Paris. In her spare time, Georgia enjoys using London's excellent travel connections to explore further afield.

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