Notice for readers: On March 31, Neotropical Birds will be integrated into the new Birds of the World, a powerful research database offering species accounts for every species on earth. Learn more at While Birds of the World is a subscription service, we remain committed to offering this content to Neotropical Birds contributors and to those unable to pay for it through our scholarship program. Stay tuned.

Galapagos Rail Laterallus spilonota

  • Order: Gruiformes
  • Family: Rallidae
  • Monotypic
  • Authors: Evan Hill


Conservation Status

Galapagos Rail has a small range, being restricted to a few islands, and its populations are in decline. Consequently its International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List status is assessed as Vulnerable (BirdLife International 2012).

Effects of human activity on populations

Galapagos Rails are vulnerable to habitat degradation from livestock. Heavy grazing by livestock can eliminate the dense fern undergrowth used by Galapagos Rails (Franklin et al. 1979). When goats (Capra) were introduced to Pinta Island for grazing in 1959, the animals cleared the humid zone of forbaceous undergrowth vegetation leaving only trees and shrubs (Weber 1971). Introduced pigs (Sus scrofa) also have a negative effect on rail populations. In contrast, after pigs, goats, and donkeys (Equus sp.) had been exterminated from Santiago between 1990-2000, rail populations increased (Donlan et al. 2007).

Recommended Citation

Hill, E. (2013). Galapagos Rail (Laterallus spilonota), version 1.0. In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA.