Watercolour of a Tahiti rail

The Tahiti rail (Gallirallus pacificus) is an extinct bird species from Tahiti. The rail was first recorded during James Cook's second voyage in 1772–1775, during which it was painted by Georg Forster and described by his father Johann. It may have also existed on nearby Mehetia. It appears to have been closely related to the buff-banded rail, and has been confused with that bird's Tongan subspecies. The Tahiti rail was 9 in (23 cm) long, with white on its underparts, throat, and "eyebrows". Its upper parts were black with white dots and bands, the hind neck was rust-coloured, the breast was grey, and it had a black band across its throat. The bill and iris were red, and the legs were pink. It was supposedly flightless, and nested on the ground. It frequented open areas, marshes, and coconut plantations, eating mainly insects and some coconut meat. Its extinction, after 1844 on Tahiti, and perhaps in the 1930s on Mehetia, was probably due to predation by humans and introduced cats and rats. (Full article...)

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