Fun Laysan Rail Facts For Kids | Kidadl


Fun Laysan Rail Facts For Kids

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Laysan rail (Zapornia palmeri) was a flightless rail also known by the scientific name Porzana palmeri. The Laysan rail endemic to Laysan Island in Northwest Hawaii was also known by the name of Laysan crake. The birds from the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands thrived on the Midway Atoll, but when Black Rats were introduced in the region, the extinction event of these birds began. The scientific name honors Henry Palmer. Henry Palmer brought specimens of the bird from the Laysan Island, one of the Hawaiian Islands. These were sent to Walter Rothschild in England.

The species called Laysan rails were seen last in Eastern Island in Midway in June 1944. Laysan rail once thrived in the Laysan Island region but after the events of 1944, the bird was categorized as extinct by the IUCN Red List. A similar and related species of the Laysan crake was reported on Lisianski Island by Russian sailors. However, this is quite unlikely as there is not much research on this. These Russian sailors also first saw the Laysan crake birds in 1828 on Laysan Island.

The Hawaiian rail also occurred in the same Hawaiian Islands but had a much bigger distribution in terms of area. The Laysan crake species had a limited area with a population in the world, whereas the Hawaiian rail had a much larger area in the Hawaiian Islands. Both the species have gone through extinction.

For more relatable content, check out these golden-hooded tanager facts and green hermit interesting facts.

Fun Laysan Rail Facts For Kids

What do they prey on?

Insects, eggs of seabirds, seeds, green vegetables

What do they eat?


Average litter size?


How much do they weigh?


How long are they?

5.9 in (14.98 cm)

How tall are they?


What do they look like?

Pale brown

Skin Type


What were their main threats?

Habitat Loss By The Introduction Of Rabbits Among Other Species, World War Ii

What is their conservation status?


Where you'll find them?

Ground Vegetation Areas Of The Island


The Hawaiian Islands, Especially Laysan Island









Laysan Rail Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a Laysan rail?

Laysan crake (Porzana palmeri) is a species among extinct birds of the Hawaiian Islands.

What class of animal does a Laysan rail belong to?

Laysan rail (Zapornia palmeri), also known as Porzana palmeri, belonged to the class of Aves in the kingdom of Animalia before extinction.

How many Laysan rails are there in the world?

There is no more of these rails left in the world. All the population has now gone extinct.

Where does a Laysan rail live?

The Laysan crake as the same suggests was found in the northwestern Hawaiian Islands, mainly Laysan. Extinct now, this species thrived once upon a time in those areas nut the distribution was quite restricted.

The species soon disappeared from the islands, however, a limited capacity migrated to the Midway Atoll where they thrived. But this was also short-lived as the introduction of rabbits and rats led to the extinction of the species in the whole world, including the Midway area and Laysan Island. Rails were dependent too much on their habitat. In the '10s, rabbits were introduced in the area which changed the Laysan rail position in the habitat drastically. These rabbits ate and destroyed all the green ground vegetation in the region making it difficult for the flightless bird to survive. Rats invaded soon and the destruction of the region continued. This is why the species became extinct on the island and the whole world.

Little crake (Zapornia parva), a member of the same genus of birds, has a distribution from Europe to western Asia. The birds also migrate to Africa in winters.

What is a Laysan rail's habitat?

The Laysan rail found in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands was known to live in fields of the Laysan Island. As there is not much information on these rails, they were primarily found in vegetation areas of the island.

As there was no water source on the island, the birds used to get fluid from dead carcasses and eggs.

Who do Laysan rails live with?

They were quite aggressive and fight off other species. They probably used to live alone or in pairs.

How long does a Laysan rail live?

The lifespan of the Laysan rail is not known.

How do they reproduce?

Laysan crake (Porzana palmeri) used to make the nest in April. Eggs were laid by females in May and June. Nests were placed inside the base of a tussock or on the ground. The nest was made with down of seabirds and dried plant materials. Usually, continental rails lay around six to teen eggs, but the Layson rail only laid two to three eggs in a clutch. Eggs were oval-shaped and pale olive buff in color. There were markings on the eggs with purple-gray coloration. Pairs mated for life and sometimes for the entire breeding season. Both sexes took care of the incubation of the eggs. Youngs hatched after 20 days of incubating and both parents took care of the young for a month. Young learned to run as fast as adults in only five days.

The young looked like a black velvet marble. They were quite different from the adult plumage of the Laysan rail.

What is their conservation status?

Laysan crake (Porzana palmeri) became extinct in 1944 when the bird was last seen on Eastern Island. The IUCN Red List categorized these birds as Extinct. The birds were earlier endemic to Midway atoll in the Northwest Hawaiian Islands, and especially Laysan Island.

Apart from the usual reasons for extinction, like habitat loss and predation, one of the main reasons for the extinct status of the Laysan crake is the decimation of the vegetation in the natural habitat by rabbits, which was introduced later. As there were no predators for these animals, rabbits multiplied rapidly and fed on the vegetation that constituted the Laysan crake habitat.  Also, rats were introduced in the same habitat which later colonized Laysan Island.

The Hawaiian rail found in the Big Island went through a similar extinction event like the introduction of European rats, cats, and possibly dogs led to the death of the species. Hunting also played a major role in the extinction of the Hawaiian rail.

Laysan Rail Fun Facts

What do Laysan rails look like?

These rails had strong and straight bills and well-developed legs. In-flight feathers, these birds had eight primaries. The face, throat, and breast were colored dull medium gray. The top of the head was pale brown in color. This pale brown coloration was also seen on the back and the wings. The birds had strongly contrasting feather shafts except on the wings. A sandy brown color was seen on the flank and the shoulder. The eye was colored red and the bill and feet were colored yellow or olive green.

Both males and females looked the same. The immature birds were colored pale brown while the young were fully black with a yellow bill.

These birds called Laysan rails have a subdued coloration to the closely related species known as Baillon's crake. The coloration is much lighter in the Laysan rails.

Laysan rail facts are interesting.

*Please note that this an image of Laysan duck, not a Laysan rail. If you have an image of Laysan rail please let us know at [email protected]

How cute are they?

The birds were quite cute and beautiful, but due to our negligence, they are extinct.

How do they communicate?

The Laysan rail was known to communicate by using the voice to make soft warbling chirps.

How big is a Laysan rail?

Laysan crake (Porzana palmeri), now extinct, was a flightless bird. The length of the bird had a range up to 5.9 in (14.98 cm).

This species of bird was even smaller than the Little crake (Zapornia parva) which has a range of length from 6.7-7.4 in (17–18.7 cm)

The largest North American rail species, known as king rail, has a range of length from 15-19 in (38.1-48.2 cm).

How fast can a Laysan rail fly?

These rails were flightless. They had shorted flight feathers. The birds use their feathers to run and keep balance.

How much does a Laysan rail weigh?

The weight of the Laysan rails is not known. Judging by their length, they are quite lightweight and agile.

What are the male and female names of the species?

The male and female species of the Laysan rail were not given different names. They were known commonly all over the world by their scientific names.

What would you call a baby Laysan rail?

A baby Laysan rail was called a young or juvenile.

What do they eat?

The Laysan rail was known to feed on plant leaves, seeds, eggs, and carcasses of seabirds. They were practically omnivores and fed mainly on invertebrates.

The Laysan rail endemic to Laysan island was also known to consume arthropods like flies, moths, maggots, caterpillars, beetles, spiders.

Are they dangerous?

Laysan crake was not considered dangerous. The birds were in fact quite peaceful and did not harm anyone.

Would they make a good pet?

As this species of rails is now extinct, there is no way to keep them as pets. During the 1900s too, these rails were not kept as pets as they need a specific type of habitat which was only available in the wild.

Did you know...

The Laysan rail thrived on the small island with every other species until rabbits came and destroyed everything for the bird. The bird was soon wiped out from the world.

When threatened, these birds hid in the burrows made by seabirds called petrels. They often used to retreat when there's too much heat.

Naming the Laysan rail

Laysan rail is known by another name, Laysan crake. There are also two scientific names for the bird - Zapornia palmeri and Porzana palmeri. The scientific name of the Laysan crake honors Henry Palmer. He collected for Walter Rothschild in the Hawaiian Islands.

There is no other information available in the naming of this bird species.

Why did the Laysan rail go extinct?

The island Laysan is considered one of the most common grounds for seabirds and many other species in the US. Laysan crake (Zapornia palmeri) was first threatened by the introduction of domestic rabbits in the area. The rabbits ate the whole vegetation on the island. Slowly, the population of the Laysan crake started reducing from 2000 in the 1900s to approximately 60% less. The decrease continued and in 1923, the birds living in the barren dusty island died of lack of nesting area and food. A few of the birds were brought to the Eastern Island in Midway, but they also could not survive for long due to lack of area. In the end, in 1944, the last Laysan rail was spotted.

As many species live in the same area as these rails, ample food and nesting areas were not found and the birds went extinct. Also, the increase in pesticides by humans on the island led to the decrease in the numbers of flies and moths, which is a very important food for the Laysan rail.

The main reasons for the extinction of this species of flightless birds were rabbits and habitat degradation by humans.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! For more relatable content, check out these frigate facts and tawny oil facts for kids.

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

*Please note, the main image is of a Eurasian Coot, a member of the rail and crake bird family, the Rallidae, as the Laysan Rail is extinct.

Written By
Ritwik Bhuyan

Ritwik has a bachelor's degree in English from Delhi University. His degree developed his passion for writing, which he has continued to explore in his previous role as a content writer for PenVelope and his current role as a content writer at Kidadl. In addition to this, he has also completed CPL training and is a licensed commercial pilot!

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