Pleroma heteromalla
Ipomoea hederifolia

Espécie anterior Próxima espécie

Little Wood-Rail

Scientific name: Aramides mangle
 ⁄ Family: Rallidae
The species is monotypic and endemic to E Brazil and French Guiana.
Synonyms: Gallinula mangleSPIX 1825.
Little Wood-Rail (Aramides mangle)
01/03/2009; Mãe-da-Lua Reserve, Itapajé, Ceará, Brazil. 300 mm f2.8 lens.

Figure 1. Photo taken from a hide, in poor light, at 7 m distance; ISO 800, exposure time 1/25 sec (!), 2.8f.

Little Wood-Rails normally stay hidden in dense vegetation, and are therefore difficult to observe. But sometimes, they come out of their cover to sing, like the bird on the photo. I made the picture an instant after it terminated its song.

Another Wood-Rail species, the Gray-necked Wood-Rail Aramides cajaneus, known as "Três potes" or "Sericoia", also occurs here. Talking to a local hunter, I noted that he was well aware of the existence of these two Wood-Rail species in our region. The birds are certainly at risk, because they are edible, and because their song attracts attention.

To top of page

Little Wood-Rail (Aramides mangle)

In the following, some brief information about the biology of A. mangle. For more details, see Redies 2010.


The chin and the superior part of the foreneck are light gray or white. The remainder of the foreneck and the breast are rufous. Crown, sides of head, and hindneck are gray. An important characteristic is the striking red-orange patch on the basal part of the maxilla (Fig. 1). See also Sharpe 1894, Sick 1997, and Mata et al. 2006, p. 162/163.


See Songs and calls.

Taxonomy and Distribution

The songs of the Little Wood-Rail and of the Rufous-necked Wood-Rail Aramides axillaris (example) are very similar, and it has been suggested in the forum of xeno-canto, that the two taxa may be part of the same superspecies (P. Boesman).

A single individual of A. mangle was recently recorded in French Guiana (Ingels et al. 2011), and in that country, A. axillaris occurs too (Taylor 1998, p. 335-336, Mata et al. 2006, p. 162, Restall et al. 2006b, p. 108). It would be interesting to know whether and how much the ranges of A. axillaris and A. mangle overlap, and whether intermediate forms of these taxa exist.


The Little Wood-Rail is known to inhabit coastal mangroves and closeby forests, and one of its Brazilian names is "Saracura-da-praia", which means "Beach Woodrail" (Sick 1997). However, the species also occurs further inland (Meyer de Schauensee 1970). In Mãe-da-Lua Reserve, about 40 km from the coast, the Little Wood-Rail lives in dense lowland Caatinga vegetation and in the dry forest of the hills, not necessarily close to water. The bird on the photo was observed about 300 meters away from the next water hole, in arboreal Caatinga.


I am not certain whether the Little Wood-Rails stay in the Reserve the whole year, or whether they leave during the dry season. My impression was that after a good rainy season, at least part of the A. mangle population stays in the reserve. The absence of vocalizations during the dry months does not necessarily indicate that (all) the birds have left.

A Little Wood-Rail did fly one night against the Hotel Simon in Itatiaia, Rio de Janeiro. This suggests that Little Wood-Rails undertake local migrations. There are similar observations for the closely related Gray-necked Wood-Rail Aramides cajaneus (Sick 1997).

To top of page