The National Aviary is still caring for our flock during this temporary closure.

You can support the National Aviary and the animals in our care during these uncertain times.

Donate to our Emergency Care Efforts today.

The National Aviary is still caring for our flock during this temporary closure.

You can support the National Aviary and the animals in our care during these uncertain times.

Donate to our Emergency Care Efforts today.

(Gallirallus owstoni)

FUN FACT

In 2019, the status of the Guam Rail changed from Extinct in the Wild to Critically Endangered! The National Aviary has sent more Guam Rails into wild habitats than any other North American zoo.

When the first innocuous Brown Tree Snake slipped off a Navy supply ship in the mid twentieth century and disappeared into the island night, Guam was home to 11 native species of forest-dwelling birds, with populations estimated in the hundreds of thousands.

A few decades later, 9 of those 11 species had disappeared entirely, and the last two (the Guam Rail and the Guam Kingfisher) were down to about 50 individuals combined. Biologists on Guam realized that drastic action was necessary if there was going to be any hope of saving what was left of the small island’s native birds.

The Guam Rail is only about 11 inches, nose to tail, and flightless. Its cinnamon brown coloring fades into the background of a dark forest floor, making the Guam Rail hard to glimpse. It was found only in Guam, and evolved without snake predators. The ground-nesting Guam Rail was thus defenseless when that first Brown Tree Snake was accidentally introduced into its habitat.

In 1987, biologists at the Guam Department of Agriculture initiated an unprecedented intervention.  Biologists rescued the 21 remaining Guam Rails and transported them to protected breeding areas on Guam, as well as to zoos in the United States, including the National Aviary in Pittsburgh. With these 21 small birds traveled whatever hope remained for the species’ survival. 

Since then, the National Aviary has led the way in Guam Rail breeding, contributing more than 60 birds to the worldwide population; more than half of which have been transported to Guam. The National Aviary has sent more Guam Rails into wild habitats than any other North American zoo. These Pittsburgh-hatched chicks have been among the nearly 200 individuals released on the neighboring islands of Rota and Cocos, where-without the presence of the Brown Tree Snake-it is hoped that Guam Rails will flourish.

Distribution

Endemic to the island of Guam.

Habitat

Forests

Diet

Omnivorous, eating more small lizards and mammals than plants and fruits.

Breeding

Year-round ground nesters.

Status

Critically Endangered

At the Aviary

See the Guam Rails in the Tropical Rainforest.