Banded rails are birds that are considered to be naturally uncommon. This is due to their unique brownish plumage that helps them to hide in their preferred habitat - under wetland vegetation. Their posture is similar to many flightless birds in New Zealand. However, they are not flightless and can, in fact, cover great distances.

Adults can be identified by the brownish back plumage that is speckled with many white spots. The bird's underbody has darker feathers with thin white edges that seem to align in horizontal stripes when the bird is standing upright. The back of the neck has a conspicuous gingery tone that turns into a browner colour the closer it gets to the rails eyes and beak. Between the brownish top of the head and the bird's dark red eyes runs a light, grey stripe from beak to the back of the head. Its throat is covered in the same light greyish tone. Adults grow up to a length of about 30 cm and only weigh up to 200 g. In contrast, juveniles are completely black.

Birds in the very north of the South Island only mark about 10% of their entire population. The rest of the banded rails are scattered among wetlands of the northern North Island. They prefer salt marshes, mangroves, and wetlands in general and feed on invertebrates within that territory. They breed in the warmer months and lay between four and six eggs. The rate of offspring that successfully leave the nest is very low due to introduced predators such as ferrets, mustelids, cats, rats and even weka that may take over their habitat.
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