The Buff-banded Rail is a secretive, medium-sized rail. They are strikingly marked with grey eyebrows, black-and-white barrings on the body and a rich chestnut buff band across the upper breast. Buff-banded Rails are found in wetlands of all kinds.
The Buff-banded Rail is a medium-sized stout rail with short legs. It has a distinctive grey eyebrow and an orange-brown band on its streaked breast. The lores, cheek and hindneck are rich chestnut. The chin and throat are grey, the upperparts streaked brown and the underparts barred black and white. The eye is red. Young birds are much paler to white underneath, with indistinct bars and only a faint orange-brown tint on the breast. Downy chicks are fluffy black. Buff-banded Rails walks slowly, with their tail raised and flicking constantly. Their average size is 31cm and their average weight is 130 grams.
Loud creaky squeak when breeding but usually silent.
The Buff-banded Rail is widespread in mainland Australia. It is found along the eastern coast and islands, and on Norfolk and Lord Howe Islands. These birds are endangered on the Cocos Keeling Islands and are now extinct on Macquarie Island. It is also found in southeast Asia, New Guinea and New Zealand.
The Buff-banded Rail is seen singly or in pairs in dense reeds and vegetation bordering many types of wetlands or crops. It makes widespread use of artificial wetlands like sewage ponds and drainage channels.
Occasionally seen as it quickly dashes between clumps of rank grass, sedges, rushes or other overgrown vegetation. The Buff-banded Rail is often otherwise difficult to observe as it skulks about, concealed by plant cover, though its harsh squeaks may reveal its presence. The species inhabits a wide range of terrestrial wetlands, as well as coastal beaches, reef flats, sandbanks, and mangroves. It forages on the ground, pecking and probing in mud to catch crustaceans, worms and other invertebrates. Rails on beaches may scavenge along the strandline.
The Buff-banded Rail feeds on crustaceans, molluscs, insects, seeds, fruit, frogs, carrion and refuse. It mostly feeds early in the morning and the evening.
Breeding is poorly known, but the Buff-breasted Rail nests in long grass, tussocks, rushes or crops. It makes an unlined cup-shaped nest of grasses or reeds.
Clutch size is 5 to 8 eggs. Both parents incubate (19 days) and the young will leave the nest within 24 hours. Both parents remain with the young, which usually feed themselves, though the female may feed them as well. Two broods may be raised in some seasons. Breeding season is from September to February.