The Recently Extinct Plants and Animals Database

Cabalus modestus Hutton, 1872:247

Chatham rail, Chatham Islands rail, Chatham Island rail, Matirakahu (Maori)



Taxonomy & Nomenclature

Synonym/s: Gallirallus modestus Hutton, 1872:247; Rallus modestus Hutton, 1872:247; Ocydromus pygmaeus Forbes, 1892


Conservation Status

Last record: 1895-1900 (Greenway, 1967); 1900 (Fleming, 1939)

IUCN RedList status: Extinct



Chatham Islands (Chatham, Mangere and Pitt Islands only), New Zealand


Biology & Ecology




There are 34 preserved specimens worldwide (Tennyson & Martinson, 2006). However, Tennyson & Bartle (2008:196) could only trace the syntype in the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa collection.






Original scientific description:

Hutton, F. W. (1872). Notes on some birds from the Chatham Islands, collected by H. H. Travers, Esq.; with descriptions of two new species. Ibis 2(3): 243-250.


Other references:

Andrews, C. W. (1896). Osteology of Nesolimnas (gen. nov.) dieffenbachii (Gray). Novitates Zoologicae 3: 266-271.

BirdLife International. (2012). Cabalus modestus. In: IUCN 2012. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2012.2. ( Downloaded on 21 May 2013.

Buller, W. L. (1873). Notes on the Little Bittern of New Zealand. Transactions and Proceedings of the New Zealand Institute 6: 119-121, pl. 21.

Buller, W. L. (1905). Supplement to the birds of New Zealand. Volume 1. London: Self published.

Day, David. (1981). The Doomsday Book of Animals: A Natural History of Vanished Species. New York, N.Y.: The Viking Press.

Fleming, C. A. (1939). Birds of the Chatham Islands 38: 381-413, 492-509.

Forbes, Henry O. (1892). Aphanapteryx and other remains in the Chatham Islands. Nature 46(1185): 252-253.

Forbes, Henry O. (1893). [Description of Palaeocasuarius haasti and Palaeocasuarius velox]. Ibis S6(5): 450-451.

Fuller, Errol. (1988). Extinct Birds. New York: Facts on File Publications. 256 pp.

Greenway, James C. (1958). Extinct and Vanishing Birds of the World. American Committee for International Wild Life Protection Special Publication, 13: x + 518 pages, 86 figures, 1 appendix.

Greenway James C. (1967). Extinct and Vanishing Birds of the World. American Committee for International Wild Life Protection, Special Publication no 13, 2nd edn. Dover Publications, New York.

Holdaway, Richard N., Worthy, Trevor H. and Tennyson, Alan J. D. (2001). A working list of breeding bird species of the New Zealand region at first human contact. New Zealand Journal of Zoology 28: 119-187.

Hume, Julian Pender and Walters, Michael. (2012). Extinct Birds. London: T & AD Poyser.

Hutton, F. W. (1874). On a new genus of Rallidae. Transactions and Proceedings of the New Zealand Institute 6: 108-110.

Jouanin, Christian. (1962). Inventaire des oiseaux éteints ou en voie d’extinction conservés au Muséum de Paris. Terre et Vie 109: 275-301.

Marples, B. K. (1946). List of the birds of New Zealand. Notornis 1(supp.): i-vii.

Oliver, W. R. B. (1930). New Zealand Birds. Wellington: Whitcombe & Tombs.

Olson, Storrs L. (1973). A classification of the Rallidae. Wilson Bulletin 85: 381-416.

Olson, Storrs L. (1975). A review of the extinct rails of the New Zealand region (Aves: Rallidae). National Museum of New Zealand Records 1: 63-79.

Hugh Robertson, John Dowding, Graeme Elliott, Rod Hitchmough, Colin Miskelly, Colin O’Donnell, Ralph Powlesland, Paul Sagar, Paul Scofield, Graeme Taylor. (2013). Conservation status of New Zealand birds, 2012. New Zealand Threat Classification Series 4. 22 pp.

Tennyson, Alan J. D. and Bartle, J. A. (2008). Catalogue of type specimens of birds in the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa. Tuhinga 19: 185-207.

Tennyson, Alan J. D. and Millener, P. R. (1994). Bird extinctions and fossil bones from Mangere Island, Chatham Islands. Notornis (supplement) 41: 165-78.

Tennyson, Alan J. D. and Martinson, P. (2006). Extinct Birds of New Zealand. Te Papa Press, Wellington.

Travers, H. H. and Travers, W. T. L. (1872). On the birds of the Chatham Islands, with introductory remarks on the avifauna and flora of the islands in their relation to those of New Zealand. Transactions and Proceedings of the New Zealand Institute 5: 212-222.

Trewick, S. A. (1997a). Sympatric flightless rails Gallirallus dieffenbachii and G. modestus on the Chatham Islands, New Zealand; morphometrics and alternative evolutionary scenarios. Journal of the Royal Society of New Zealand 27: 451-464.

Trewick, S. A. (1997b). Flightlessness and phylogeny amongst endemic rails (Aves: Rallidae) of the New Zealand region. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, London B: 352: 429-446.

Walters, Michael. (1994). Birds' Eggs. London & Toronto: Dorling Kindersley.

Williams, G. R. (1962). Extinction and the land and freshwater-inhabiting birds of New Zealand. Notornis 10(1): 15-32.


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