The population of this species is low and the estimate provided above looks very appropriate. However, that there are declines taking place should be studied further. I follow historical google earth imagery closely and I’ve seen no evidence that habitat has declined by 5% since 2001 as per the literature quoted. In fact almost the entirety of the range of this bird is found within protected areas. Furthermore, distribution of the species is not even across it’s range and therefore some forest loss in one area does not necessarily equate to an equivalent population decline.
However, flock size has declined significantly since the mid 20th Century. There are early records of flocks of up 40+ birds in the Kikuyu Highlands, and the old Chyulus record refers to hundred(s)? In the last 20 years, however, max flock size reported has been 10-12 birds. My sense is that the population of this bird has declined, but some time ago, and has now stabilized. There is no evidence it is any harder to find today than in the 1990’s for example. The vast area of wet montane forest along the east side of the Aberdares and Kikuyu Highlands was all cleared before the 70’s and that is when the declines will have taken place. Today, habitat is protected and in reasonable condition, and not declining in extent to any great degree.
There is evidence of movement within the two subpopulations. Birds of Meru-Kilimanjaro [presumably] make some seasonal movements to the the nearby Taita, North Pare, and probably Chyulu Hills (no one has visited the highest forests here where van Someren found them in numbers in Jun-Aug 1938 since that time) in the Jul-Aug period. Meanwhile, birds that breed in the lower Kikuyu Forests in Oct-Dec are largely absent there in Apr-Aug, when they are recorded at slightly higher elevations. On Mt Kenya, records are year round suggesting full resident status there. There is evidence as of yet that there is movement between the two subpopulations.
Agrees to the proposal. I recently received reports from local bird watchers in Uaso Narok Forest Reserve (0°2’48.67″N, 36°22’55.69″E) in Nyahururu of sightings of the species in this forest that occur in an ecotone between the central highlands and savanna ecosystems. The forest is c.30 km north of the northern section of the Aberdares Forest and National Park. If indeed this is confirmed, it will be a new site for the species whose explanation could be possible movements from the Aberdares. The dates would be interesting too.
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