Tsingy Wood Rail
Canirallus beankaensis

Gruiformes Order – Sarothruridae Family

The Tsingy Wood Rail is endemic to Madagascar. Known since late 1980, it was only described in 2011. It occurs in areas of limestone karst with rock pinnacles known as “tsingy” where the limestone has been eroded and forms ridges, fissures, sinkholes and other characteristic landforms. It frequents deciduous forest bordered by exposed rock and feeds on the forest floor. Like other rail species, it is secretive and difficult to observe.  
The Tsingy Wood Rail has very restricted range in the lowland of CW Madagascar. It is threatened by hunting and degradation of the habitat. The species is currently listed as Near Threatened.

Length: 30 cm

The Tsingy Wood Rail is distinctly larger than the Madagascan Wood Rail (C. kioloides) and it has darker plumage overall.
On the upperparts, hindneck and mantle are dark clay with olivaceous tinge, becoming amber-coloured on lower back, scapulars and upperwing-coverts, and varying in intensity. Rump, uppertail-coverts and both sides of the tail are tinged rusty. On the upperwing, the flight-feathers are blackish with white bars on inner webs, more uniform on secondaries and tertials.

On the underparts, chin and throat are white and outlined by narrow dark line. Foreneck, breast and upper flanks are dark cinnamon-rufous. Central belly is dark clay with olivaceous wash, whereas lower flanks and thighs are barred or spotted dark brown, dark and light buff. The undertail-coverts are tawny to cinnamon-rufous with dark bars. On the underwing, coverts, axillaries and flight-feathers are barred black-and-white.

On the head, forehead, crown, nape and lores are dark grey to greyish-brown, with indistinct mottling. Ear-coverts and cheeks to malar area are dark cinnamon-rufous.
The stout bill is pale bluish-grey with pale horn to ivory tip. The base of the upper mandible is dusky. The eyes are reddish chestnut. Legs and feet are black.
Male and female are probably similar.
The juvenile is not described, but the downy young has dark bare parts. The bill is black with pale tip. The eyes are dark brown. Legs and feet are brownish-black.  

The Tsingy Wood Rail occurs in restricted area of lowland CW Madagascar, including parts of Beanka and Bemaraha massifs.

The Tsingy Wood Rail is found in areas of limestone karst with rock pinnacles, between 100 and 320 metres of elevation. It usually occurs in canyons or valleys, closed or bordered by exposed rocks, and dry deciduous forest growing in these canyons.

The Tsingy Wood Rail gives series of low “dud” notes usually repeated every 0,5/1 second “dud-dud-dud-dud-dud…”. These calls can be quiet or louder when the bird is excited or agitated. The alarm call is a loud, high-pitched “snick”.

The Tsingy Wood Rail feeds on the forest floor, but its diet is unknown. It probably consumes some arthropods and other invertebrates found on the ground.

The breeding behaviour is unknown, but the species is probably territorial during the breeding season.

The Tsingy Wood Rail is apparently sedentary on the island.
Usually, the rails prefer to run in order to escape danger, rather than to take flight.

No information.

The Tsingy Wood Rail is threatened by degradation and loss of its habitat, through fires and conversion for cultivation. However, most part of the forest within its range is protected and others are inaccessible in the main rocky part of this restricted range. In addition, Beanka forest is now a protected area. The species is also vulnerable to hunting pressure.
The population is probably small and declining. But this bird is difficult to find.
The Tsingy Wood Rail is currently listed as Near Threatened.

Fr: Râle des Tsingy
Ang: Tsingy Wood Rail
All: Tsingyralle
Esp: Rascón del Tsingy
Ita: Rallo degli tsingy
Nd: Tsingygrijskeelral
Sd: tsingyskogsrall

Text by Nicole Bouglouan

Sources :

HANDBOOK OF THE BIRDS OF THE WORLD Vol 3 by Josep del Hoyo-Andrew Elliott-Jordi Sargatal - Lynx Edicions - ISBN : 8487334202

Birds of Madagascar and the Indian Ocean Islands Par Roger Safford, Adrian Skerrett, Frank Hawkins – ISBN: 1472924118, 9781472924117- Editeur: Bloomsbury Publishing, 2015

The Birds of Africa: Volume VIII: The Malagasy Region: Madagascar, Seychelles, Comoros, Mascarenes - Par Roger Safford, Frank Hawkins – ISBN: 1408190494, 9781408190494- Editeur: A&C Black, 2013

Avibase (Denis Lepage)

Birdlife International

HBW Alive

Tsingy Wood-Rail – New species of Rail

Species New to Science - [Ornithology • 2011] Tsingy Wood Rail | Mentocrex kioloides • Patterns of morphological and genetic variation in the Mentocrex kioloides complex (Gruiformes: Rallidae) from Madagascar, with the description of a new species


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