The Woodhen tells the fascinating success story of saving the flightless Woodhen of Lord Howe Island. This unique large rail, an iconic and highly endangered Australian bird, was at the very brink of extinction with just 15 individuals found in 1980, when bold and risky actions were taken to save it.
The Woodhen begins with the discovery and ecology of Lord Howe Island. It then details the history of the Woodhen, its place among the rails and their evolution of flightlessness, the planning, implementation and trials, tribulations and successes of the captive breeding programme and the way in which the wild population recovered. The ecology, behaviour and breeding biology of this unique flightless island rail are also discussed. The text is accompanied by numerous photographs and drawings.
This is a story of survival, yet the bird remains highly endangered as it is under constant threat, which could tip it over the brink and to extinction. The Woodhen provides gripping insights into the potential for both losing and saving vertebrate species.
Clifford Frith has authored four major ornithological monographs, two winning a prestigious Whitley Book Award, a substantial natural history of Australia's Cape York Peninsula wilderness plus other titles. He was awarded, jointly with Dawn Frith, the 1996 D. L. Serventy Medal for original contributions to Australasian ornithology. His PhD, awarded by Griffith University, involved evolutionary studies of bowerbirds and birds of paradise. He has studied many other birds, including rails.
"This book tells the amazing success story of saving the flightless Woodhen, a large endemic rail of Lord Howe Island in Australia. [...] The bulk of the book looks at the planning, implementation and trials, tribulations and successes of the captive breeding program and the way in which the wild population recovered to a population today of approximately 250 birds."
- Neil Calbrade, BTO book reviews