BirdLife Species factsheet for Obscure Berrypecker: http://datazone.birdlife.org/species/factsheet/obscure-berrypecker-melanocharis-arfakiana
Obscure Berrypecker, Melanocharis arfakiana, is endemic to the island of New Guinea (Papua New Guinea and Indonesia) and is currently listed as Data Deficient (see BirdLife International 2017). Historically, it was known from only two specimens, one from the Arfak Mountains, collected in 1867, and the other near the upper Angabunga River, collected in 1933 (Coates 1990). However, there have been increasing numbers of records of this species within the last 25 years. In 1994 this species was potentially tape-recorded, and two specimens collected above Tabubil, though they require comparing with the type specimen to confirm identifications (B. Whitney in litt. 2016 per G. Dutson in litt. 2016). There have continued to be sightings in the Tabubil area, where the species may be considered ‘not uncommon’, as well as records from the Huon Peninsula, Keki Lodge near Madang, the Kokoda Trail, and two other localities (see Beehler and Pratt 2016).
It is potentially a rare species, restricted to a very narrow altitudinal range between congeners (Coates 1990, P. Gregory in litt. 1994). However, it is cryptic by nature and the appearance of a patchy and localised distribution may in fact be more down to the species being overlooked. In fact, there is a large amount of suitable forest habitat for this species, at the appropriate altitudinal range, throughout the whole of New Guinea (B. Whitney in litt. 2016 per G. Dutson in litt. 2016), and the species appears to tolerate habitat degradation, being common in degraded forest in certain areas (G. Dutson in litt. 2016). This suggests that the species may not be threatened. Tolerance of degraded forest suggests that the population trend may be stable, or only declining at a very slow rate, while the large amount of potential habitat for this species suggests that the population size has the potential to be greater than the threshold for Vulnerable. Therefore, it is proposed that this species be listed as Least Concern.
We welcome any comments or further information on this proposed listing.
Beehler, B. M.; Pratt, T. K. 2016. Birds of New Guinea. Distribution, taxonomy, and systematics. Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey.
BirdLife International. 2017. Species factsheet: Melanocharis arfakiana. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 24/04/2017.
Coates, B. J. 1990. The birds of Papua New Guinea, 2: passerines. Dove, Alderley, Australia.