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Lord Howe Island Woodhen

Lord Howe Island Woodhen

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THREATENED SPECIES INFORMATION

Lord Howe Island Woodhen
Gallirallus sylvestris (Sclater, 1869)
Other common name Woodhen Conservation status
The Lord Howe Island Woodhen is listed as an Endangered Species on Schedule 1 of the New South Wales Threatened Species Conservation Act, 1995 (TSC Act). This species is also listed as a Vulnerable Species on Schedule 1 of the Commonwealth Endangered Species Protection Act, 1992.
Tarsus 45-5 mm Weight 530g (male) 460g (female)

Description (summarised from Marchant
& Higgins 1993) Length 340-420mm (male) 320-370mm (female) Wingspan 490-520mm (male) 470-490mm (female) Tail 60-66mm Bill 53-47mm

The Lord Howe Island Woodhen is a flightless, medium-sized rail. Individuals are uniform olive-brown with rufous banding through the wings. The bill is pinky brown and the legs and feet are grey-brown. The adult has a bright red iris. The species vocalises with a variety of highpitched staccato calls. The territorial call consists of a series of loud piercing notes given at any time of the day or night. When alarmed the species may give a loud, long piercing note and to maintain contact individuals give a low, resonant grunting or purring.

B Miller/NPWS Lord Howe Island Woodhen

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Lismore

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Tamw orth
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Port Macq uarie

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Broken Hill

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Du bbo
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Lord Howe Island

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Sydn ey

Griffith
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Wagg a Wagg a

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Th e sig htin gs rep re sen ted on th is m ap are only ind icative. The y can no t b e considered as a com prehen sive in vent ory an d m ay cont ain e rrors an d omission s.

LEGEN D

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Lord Howe Isl and Woodhen post 1980 sightings Roads Rivers

Map Com piled From: Species S ightings from the NPWS Atlas of NSW Wil dlife Database Roads and Rivers from A USLIG

Copyright NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, August 1999
This m ap is not guaranteed to be fr ee from err or or om ission The NSW National Parks and Wil dlife Service and its employees discl aim l iabil ity for any act done or omission m ade on the inform ation in the m ap and any consequences of such acts or omissions 50 0 50 100 Kilom eter s

x Distribution

NPWS records of the Lord Howe Island Woodhen in NSW

Habitat
The Lord Howe Island Woodhen inhabits the forest of the subtropical, oceanic Lord Howe Island (Fullagar 1985). In the highland areas, the species occurs on boulder-covered slopes, steep, scree valleys and plateaux (Disney & Fullagar 1984). In the lowlands the species has been recorded in stands of palms, Banyan Fig, Grey Bark and Black Butt (Disney & Fullagar 1984).

This species is endemic to Lord Howe Island in the south-western Pacific Ocean. The species formerly ranged from sea level to the tops of the mountains. However, by the mid 19th Century, it was confined to the summit areas of Mount Gower and Mount Lidgebird (Garnett 1992). Since a successful captive-breeding program, control of predators and re-introduction, the species now occurs throughout the island.

Ecology Recorded occurrences in conservation reserves
Lord Howe Island World Heritage Area (NPWS 1999). The diurnal Lord Howe Island Woodhen forages with its bill for worms, insect larvae and crustaceans (Marchant & Higgins 1993). The avifauna of Lord Howe Island have been subjected to significant disturbances since

THREATENED SPECIES INFORMATION

the island was permanently colonised by humans in 1834. This has included the clearing of lowland areas and the impact of introduced species. Of 15 commonly occurring endemic bird species, only 6 remain with 9 extinction’ s (Hutton 1991). Feral pigs and cats were removed from the island in an eradication program and domestic cats are being phased out through

Breeding may occur throughout the year in the lowlands, however, in the highlands, laying occurs from August to January. Generally, both parents incubate 1-4 eggs for a period of 20-23 days. The young are brooded and fed by both parents and often by the young of the previous brood (Marchant & Higgins 1993).

NPWS Lord Howe Island Woodhen

a desexing operation initiated by the Lord Howe Island Board (Hutton 1991). In 1973 the species had declined to such a critically endangered level that the decision was made to remove two breeding pairs from the wild into a captive breeding program on the island. Between 1981-1983, 85 captive bred birds were re-introduced into the wild and in combination with predator controls, have successfully re-established a population on the island. The size of the population has risen to around 200 fluctuating between 180-220 birds and the species now occupies virtually the entire remaining available habitat. This small island population requires ongoing monitoring to guard against future decline (Marchant &Higgins 1993).

Threats
• Loss of habitat • Predation by the Masked Owl • Predation by rats and cats

Management (summarised from Recher
& Clark 1974; Miller & Bullette 1985)

• Protection and maintenance of known or potential habitat • Control of introduced animals around potential habitat areas

Recovery plans
A recovery plan is in preparation for this species.

References
Disney H.J.de S. and Fullagar P.J. 1984. Lord Howe Island Woodhen. Australian Natural History 21: 259. Fullagar P.J. 1985. The Woodhen of Lord Howe Island. Aviculture Magazine 91: 15-30. Garnett S. 1992. Threatened and Extinct Birds of Australia. Royal Australian Ornithologists Union and Australian National Parks and Wildlife Service, Canberra. Hutton I. 1991. Birds of Lord Howe Island - Past and Present. Lithocraft Graphics, South Melbourne. Marchant S. and Higgins P.J. (Eds) 1993. Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic Birds Volume 2: Raptors to Lapwings. Oxford University Press, Melbourne. Miller B. and Bullette K.J. 1985. Rehabilitation of an endangered bird: the Lord Howe Island Woodhen, Tricholimnas sylvestris (Slater). Biological Conservation 34 (1): 55-96. NPWS 1999. Atlas of NSW Wildlife. NPWS, Hurstville. Recher H.F. and Clark S.S. 1974. A biological survey of Lord Howe Island with recommendations for the conservation of the island’ s wildlife. Biological Conservation 6: 263-273.

For further information contact
Threatened Species Unit, Policy and Science Directorate Phone 02 9585 6540 General enquiries: 43 Bridge St Hurstville NSW 2220 Phone 1300 36 1967 or 02 9585 6333. Web site www.npws.nsw.gov.au

© September 1999.

Important Disclaimer
While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information in this publication, the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service disclaims any responsibility or liability in relation to anything done or not done by anyone in reliance upon the publication’ s content.

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