Buff-banded Rail - Botanic Gardens, Sydney

Buff-banded Rail by Outer Island

Although rails are generally scarce and nomadic in the Sydney region there has always been a group of Buff-banded Rails reliably recorded at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Sydney. It is listed in almost every guidebook for Sydney that you can easily see them at the botanic gardens.

And while this was very much the case for a long time, the Buff-banded Rails have been gone from the gardens over the last 5-6 years or notoriously impossible to find during this time period. Whatever the unknown cause for their decline at the gardens might be, I am pleased to share that they are back and with a total vengeance.

Appearing in December of 2017, the Buff-banded Rails started appearing again PLUS they had their cute little babies with them. There are now several breeding pairs and it is possible to spot them yet again during a visit to the botanic gardens.


Now, despite being back, these notoriously shy birds still make you work to find them. They are secretive, love a good dense undergrowth and are very fast as they race by from one hidden garden bed to the next. Listen out for loud squeeks in the garden beds and try to observe any movement in the leaves. You may just have yourself a Buff-banded Rail.

They typically travel in twos and since the pairs in the gardens have babies keep your eyes out for little ones. You may also notice the miners going crazy as a clue to find them since they antagonize the Buff-banded Rails (what jerks).

They can be spotted in the range by the Cadigal gardens to the Fernery and all the way to the wild flower meadow by the cafe. If you enter by the Woolloomooloo Gates, as you hit the grid of garden beds by the Palm House, that's a good place to begin your search. Keep a careful eye out and you just might see these beautiful secretive birds.

Good luck! Let us know if you spot them :)




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