Galapagos Rail

A unique and secretive bird


The Galapagos Rail or (Galapagos Crake as it’s also known) is a small bird native to the islands that’s currently listed as vulnerable due to the damage caused by introduced non-native species.

This charming little creature is almost completely flightless, with short wings that can only sustain it in the air for a short distance. It’s mainly black in color, with a grey head and some white spots on its back. It has a stunning red eye which makes a beautiful contrast with its dark plumage.

You’re likely to hear a Galapagos Rail before you see it! They make a wide range of cries which your Galapatours guide will help you to identify. They live in the wetter grassland areas found at higher elevations on islands like Santiago, Santa Cruz and Sierra Negra, where they take advantage of the deep cover to hide out of the way and to hunt their mainly insect prey, with the occasional seed or berry thrown in for variety.

If you do hear a Rail close by then it’s very likely you’ll soon see it. Galapagos Rails are renowned for their curiosity and show very little fear of humans. They well well scuttle out of cover to come and take a look at you and your fellow adventurers.

The Galapagos Rail is listed as a vulnerable species mainly because of the threat from non-native introduced species who take advantage of the birds’ lack of fear. Because of its lack of flying ability the Rails are vulnerable to attack from feral cats, and their habitat was at risk from species like goats and pigs. Thankfully the mammal control operations of Galapagos National Park are managing the numbers of these predators and the Rail population is quickly able to recolonise areas where it had previously been driven from. 

Photos of the Galapagos Rail

Fast Facts about the Galapagos Rail

  • Galapagos Rails have long legs and long toes - perfect for walking and running
  • The Galapagos Rail's narrow body helps them to slip through dense cover with ease
  • The Galapagos Rail is found on Pinta, Fernandina, Isabela, Santiago, Santa Cruz, Floreana and San Cristobal islands
  • Galapagos Rails sometimes forage in shallow water, wading up to chest height and catching prey from the surface

Where can the Galapagos Rail be seen?

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All cruises to visit the Galapagos Rail