Black-tailed Native-hens

The Black-tailed Native-hen, (Gallinula ventralis) is a rail that is native to Australia and New Zealand.


The Black-tailed Native-hen is a large dark bird, measuring about 38cm in length and weighing around 400g.

The plumage is mostly brownish-grey and green. It has an erect tail.

Its long legs and lower jaw are pink-orange and its eyes are a bright orange color.

Calls / Vocalizations

This species is not excessively vocal. Its alarm call is described as a ‘kak’ sound.

Black-tailed Native-hen, Gallinula ventralis - in the early morning light


The Black-tailed Native-hen is common throughout Australia, where it has a wide range. It usually lives by permanent as well as intermittent water sources.

It is a rare vagrant to New Zealand.


The breeding season is usually b etween August and December.

The cup-shaped nest is situated in vegetation near water or swampland. The average clutch consists of 5-7 pale green eggs, which are incubated for approximately 20 days.


The Black-tailed Native-hen mostly feeds on insects, plant material and seeds. In farming areas, the Black-tailed Native-hen are considered crop pests as they are capable of causing considerable crop damage.

Black-tailed Native-hens, Gallinula ventralis
Black-tailed Native-hen, Gallinula ventralis
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Gordon Ramel

Gordon is an ecologist with two degrees from Exeter University. He's also a teacher, a poet and the owner of 1,152 books. Oh - and he wrote this website.

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