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Find Okinawa’s elusive flightless bird

In search of the Okinawa Rail (Gallirallus okinawae)

Did you know that Okinawa is actually home to many rare and endemic species? The Okinawa Rail is the rarest – it was only discovered in 1981. Known locally as the Yanbaru Kuina, it is a flightless bird endemic to the subtropical Yanbaru Forest in the north of Okinawa Island.

okinawa rail(gallirallus okinawae) okinawa rail(gallirallus okinawae)

Characterised by its striped body and vermillion-coloured bill and legs, it is a unique, interesting species that cannot fly but roosts in the trees and can run fast. Even though they’re exlusive, you may be able to hear these noisy birds before you see them – they are usually foraging on the forest floor, often in pairs or small flocks. Head to the Kuina Rail Learning Center where you can learn more about them in an observation booth that recreates their natural habitat.

Gesaji river in Okinawa Prefecture



When driving through the thick forests of Yanbaru, you can often spot road signs depicting the Kuina. As this is a nature reserve, visitors are advised to drive carefully in order to protect the local environment and its biodiversity. To fully explore the biodiversity of the area, Kunigami Village has plenty of eco-accommodation options like bungalows and even treehouses.



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