Gallirallus dieffenbachi (Dieffenbach’s rail)

Gallirallus dieffenbachi known as Dieffenbach’s Rail was a medium-sized flightless rail unique to the Chatham Islands of New Zealand.

Gallirallus dieffenbachi is extinct and only known from one living specimen collected in 1840 by Ernst Dieffenbach, now in the Museum. Records suggest that the species was already extremely scarce by the late 1830s. Dieffenbach’s specimen was undoubtedly one of the last birds alive (Tennyson & Millener 2006).

Following European discovery of the islands in 1791, the arrival of sealers and settlers brought increased levels of hunting and the introduction of Norway rat (Rattus norvegicus), thought to be the cause of extinction.

Species detail

  • Gallirallus dieffenbachi

    Learn about the form and structure of Gallirallus dieffenbachi, get a description of its distinctive features and find out about its evolution.

  • Chatham islands

    Find out about the area of New Zealand that this bird was endemic to and the type of habitat it was found in. Learn about the feeding patterns of this species and read about two other related species of rail.

  • Gallirallus dieffenbachi

    Find out the size of Dieffenbach’s rail and its features.

  • Rat

    Learn about the only specimen of this species that was ever recorded and find out about the threats that would have lead to its extinction.

  • dieffenbach

    Get reference material for Gallirallus dieffenbachi.