New Britain Kingfisher (Todiramphus albonotatus): request for information.

BirdLife species factsheet for New Britain Kingfisher

The New Britain Kingfisher (Todiramphus albonotatus) is endemic to New Britain in Papua New Guinea, where it appears to be a scarce species (Gilliard and LeCroy 1967, Clay 1994, K. D. Bishop in litt. 1996, G. Dutson pers. obs. 1998, J. Pilgrim in litt. 1999). This species appears to have a small population, which has previously been placed in the band 2,500-9,999 individuals. The population is thought to be declining as a result of forest loss, which has been estimated to be occurring at a rate equivalent to 14.5% over three generations (Buchanan et al. 2008). As a result of its small and declining population, the species is currently listed as Near Threatened.

In 2017, the results of a new study of the conservation status of the birds of New Britain were published (Davis et al. 2017). This study suggested that the New Britain Kingfisher should be uplisted to Vulnerable under Criterion C2a(ii). Hence, we are undertaking a review of the species’s Red List Category.

Our current information on the species’s conservation status will now be compared to all Red List Criteria.

Criterion A – We have no direct data on population trends. An analysis of forest loss in Papua New Guinea between 2002 and 2014 found that 2.2% of forest was lost and 5.2% logged across all altitudes (Bryan and Shearman 2015). Another analysis of forest loss data from 2000-2012 indicated that forest was lost within the species’s range at a rate equivalent to 3.5% across three generations (12 years; Tracewski et al. 2016). Assuming the population has declined at the same rate as the forest cover, the species is suspected to have undergone a reduction of 3.5% over the past three generation lengths, and assuming that forest loss continues at a similar rate, the population may be assumed to continue to decline at this rate in future. However, the rate of population decline does not appear to approach the thresholds for listing the species as threatened under Criterion A. The species is therefore assessed as Least Concern under this criterion.

Criterion B – The species’s Extent of Occurrence (EOO) is estimated at 63,400 km2. This does not approach the threshold for listing the species as threatened under Criterion B1. The species’s Area of Occupancy (AOO) has not been quantified, but the area of tree cover within the species’s range in 2012 was estimated at 26,442 km2 (Tracewski et al. 2016). It is therefore unlikely that the species’s AOO is smaller than 2,000 km2. The species is therefore assessed as Least Concern under Criterion B.

Criterion C – The species’s population size has been estimated at 2,500-10,000 individuals. This roughly equates to 1,667 – 6,667 mature individuals, which is rounded to 1,700 – 6,700 mature individuals. The species meets the population size threshold for listing as Endangered or Vulnerable under Criterion C. However, to list the species as threatened on the Red List under Criterion C further conditions must also be met.

A continuing decline in population size can be inferred from analyses of forest loss in New Britain (Bryan and Shearman 2015, Tracewski et al. 2016). We do not have population data from which to estimate directly the rate of population decline, so the species does not warrant listing as threatened under Criterion C1.

We have little information on the species’s population structure. The species does not have multiple subspecies and New Britain still has a fairly high coverage of forest, which could suggest a single subpopulation. Conversely, the species is known to be scarce and is found across a large area, so there could be more than one subpopulation. If there was a single subpopulation, then condition 2a(i) would not be met, but condition 2a(ii) would be met at the level of Vulnerable. This would qualify the species for listing as Vulnerable under Criterion C2a(ii). If there were multiple subpopulations, condition 2a(i) may be met at the level of Vulnerable, depending on the subpopulation structure and the most likely total population size. Condition 2a(ii) could only be met at the level of Endangered, if at least 95% of mature individuals were found within a single subpopulation. The species could therefore qualify as Endangered, Vulnerable, Near Threatened or Least Concern under Criterion C2a, depending on the subpopulation structure.

Criterion D – Based on the population estimates described above, the species’s population size does not meet or approach the threshold for Vulnerable under Criterion D. The species does not have a restricted area of occupancy of number of locations such that deforestation could drive the species to Critically Endangered or Extinct within a very short time. The species does not therefore meet the criteria for listing as Vulnerable under Criterion D2. The species is therefore assessed as Least Concern under Criterion D.

Criterion E – To the best of our knowledge no quantitative assessment of the probability of extinction has been conducted for this species, and so it cannot be assessed against this criterion.

To allow us to achieve a clearer assessment of the species’s status, information is requested on the species’s population structure. In particular, we require information on whether the species is likely to have more than one subpopulation and if so, the relative sizes of the subpopulations.

Please note that this topic is not designed to be a general discussion about the ecology of the species, rather a discussion of the species’s Red List status. Therefore, please make sure your comments are about the proposed listing.

An information booklet on the Red List Categories and Criteria can be downloaded here and the Red List Criteria Summary Sheet can be downloaded here. Detailed guidance on IUCN Red List terms and definitions and the application of the Red List Categories and Criteria can be downloaded here.


Bryan, J. E. and Shearman, P. L., eds. (2015) The state of the forests of Papua New Guinea 2014: Measuring change over the period 2002–2014. Port Moresby: University of Papua New Guinea.

Buchanan, G. M., Butchart, S. H. M., Dutson, G., Pilgrim, J. D., Steininger, M. K., Bishop, K. D. and Mayaux, P. (2008) Using remote sensing to inform conservation status assessment: estimates of recent deforestation rates on New Britain and the impacts on endemic birds. Biological Conservation 141(1): 56-66.

Clay, J. (1994) Nakanai ’93: an Oxford University Expedition to New Britain Island, Papua New Guinea.

Davis, R. A., Dutson, G. and Szabo, J. K. (2018) Conservation status of threatened and endemic birds of New Britain, Papua New Guinea. Bird Conservation International 28(3): 439-450.

Gilliard, E. T. and LeCroy, M. (1967) Results of the 1958-1959 Gilliard New Britain expedition, 4: Annotated list of birds of the Whiteman Mountains, New Britain. Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History 135: 173-216.

 Tracewski, Ł.., Butchart, S. H. M., Di Marco, M., Ficetola, G. F., Rondinini, C., Symes, A., Wheatley, H., Beresford, A. E. & Buchanan, G. M. (2016) Toward quantification of the impact of 21st-century deforestation on the extinction risk of terrestrial vertebrates. Conservation Biology 30: 1070-1079.

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2 Responses to New Britain Kingfisher (Todiramphus albonotatus): request for information.

  1. Guy Dutson says:

    I think that forest birds in New Britain are not (yet) fragmented into subpopulations as there is reasonable forest connectivity to the central mountains from most lowland sites. I have never recorded this species outside of closed forest but it is easily overlooked.

  2. Hannah Wheatley (BirdLife) says:

    Preliminary proposals

    Based on available information, our preliminary proposal for the 2019 Red List would be to list New Britain Kingfisher (Todiramphus albonotatus) as Vulnerable under Criterion C2a(ii).

    There is now a period for further comments until the final deadline in mid-July, after which the recommended categorisations will be put forward to IUCN.

    Please note that we will then only post final recommended categorisations on forum discussions where these differ from the initial proposal.

    The final 2019 Red List categories will be published on the BirdLife and IUCN websites in December, following further checking of information relevant to the assessments by both BirdLife and IUCN.

Comments are closed.