Archived 2016 topics: Ashy Cuckooshrike (Coracina cinerea) is being moved to genus Ceblepyris and is being split: list C. cinereus as Least Concern and C. cucullatus as Endangered?

This is part of a consultation on the Red List implications of extensive changes to BirdLife’s taxonomy for passerines

Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International will soon publish the second volume of the HBW-BirdLife Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World, building off the Handbook of the Birds of the World series, and BirdLife’s annually updated taxonomic checklist.

The new Checklist will be based on the application of criteria for recognising species limits described by Tobias et al. (2010). Full details of the specific scores and the basis of these for each new taxonomic revision will be provided in the Checklist.

Following publication, an open and transparent mechanism will be established to allow people to comment on the taxonomic revisions or suggest new ones, and provide new information of relevance in order to inform regular updates. We are also actively seeking input via a discussion topic here regarding some potential taxonomic revisions that currently lack sufficient information.

The new Checklist will form the taxonomic basis of BirdLife’s assessments of the status of the world’s birds for the IUCN Red List. The taxonomic changes that will appear in volume 2 of the checklist (for passerines) will begin to be incorporated into the 2016 Red List update, with the remainder to be incorporated into subsequent Red List updates.

Preliminary Red List assessments have been carried out for the newly split or lumped taxa. We are now requesting comments and feedback on these preliminary assessments.

Ashy Cuckooshrike Coracina cinerea is being moved to genus Ceblepyris and is being split into Ceblepyris cinereus and C. cucullatus, following the application of criteria set out by Tobias et al. (2010).

Prior to this taxonomic change, Ashy Cuckooshrike was listed as Least Concern on the basis that it did not approach the threshold for listing as Vulnerable under any criteria. Ceblepyris cinereus (as now defined following the taxonomic change) is found in forested habitats throughout Madagascar (Safford 2013, Taylor 2016). The population size has not been quantified, but it is described as common in the east and north-west, not as much so in the west, and not that common in the south-west (Safford 2013). Habitat destruction means that it is likely to be in decline, but this is not thought to be sufficient to warrant a threatened category, and it is not thought to approach the threshold for Vulnerable under any other criteria. Therefore, it is proposed that this species be listed as Least Concern.

C. cucullatus is found on the islands of Grand Comore and Mohéli, in Comoros. It inhabits evergreen forests, preferring old forest with larger trees (Louette et al. 2008, Safford 2013). It is common around Mt. Karthala, on Grand Comore, but the density on Mohéli is far lower than that of the Grand Comore population (Safford 2013). The species is threatened by habitat loss, particularly on Mohéli (Safford 2013), and given its very restricted range (Extent of Occurrence = 3,445km2) the population is not thought to exceed 2,500 mature individuals, although more accurate figures are welcomed in addition to up to date figures regarding the current rate of habitat loss on these two islands. However, its restricted range does mean that it may qualify as Endangered under criterion B1ab(ii,iii,v) if considered to occur at five or fewer locations and/or to be severely fragmented. If neither of the latter conditions are met it may instead warrant listing as Vulnerable or Near Threatened.

*Note that the term ‘location’ defines a geographically or ecologically distinct area in which a single threatening event can rapidly affect all individuals of the taxon present. The size of the location depends on the area covered by the threatening event and may include part of one or many subpopulations. Where a taxon is affected by more than one threatening event, location should be defined by considering the most serious plausible threat (IUCN 2001, 2012)..


Louette, M., Abdérémane, H., Yahaya, I. and Meirte, D. 2008. Atlas des oiseaux nicheurs de la Grand Comore, de Mohéli et d’Anjouan. Report. Tervuren, Belgium: Musée Royal de l’Afrique Centrale.

Safford, R. J. 2013. Madagascar Cuckoo-shrike Coracina cinerea. Pp. 658-600 in Safford, R. J. and Hawkins, A. F. A. (eds) The Birds of Africa. Vol. VIII: The Malagasy Region. Christopher Helm, London.

Taylor, B. 2016. Madagascar Cuckoo-shrike (Coracina cinerea). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 14 September 2016).

Tobias, J. A., Seddon, N., Spottiswoode, C. N., Pilgrim, J. D., Fishpool, L. D. C. and Collar, N. J. 2010. Quantitative criteria for species delimitation. Ibis 152: 724–746.

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2 Responses to Archived 2016 topics: Ashy Cuckooshrike (Coracina cinerea) is being moved to genus Ceblepyris and is being split: list C. cinereus as Least Concern and C. cucullatus as Endangered?

  1. Phil Gregory says:

    Comments from my Dec 2014 Comoros trip below, we did not find this species on Moheli at all despite being in good habitat on several days, I would have thought VU is at least appropriate
    Comoros Cuckooshrike Coracina c. cucullata 4 on Mt. Karthala, Grande Comore Dec 6 and 3 next day, all males except for one presumed immature that had a yellowish wash to the breast and pale fringes to the head. Very smart and distinctive, very white below and with a very different call to Ashy Cuckooshrike. Split by IOC but retained within Ashy Cuckooshrike by Clements. IOC separates the (rare) birds on Mohéli as race moheliensis, but Clements treat moheliensis as a synonym of cucullata. We tried taping for them without success, but the cut we had sounded more like juvenile birds than the call from Grande Comore.

  2. James Westrip (BirdLife) says:

    Based on available information, our preliminary proposal for the 2016 Red List would be to list:

    C. cinereus as Least Concern.

    C. cucullatus as Vulnerable under criterion C2a(i).

    There is now a period for further comments until the final deadline of 28 October, 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 2016 Red List categories will be published on the BirdLife and IUCN websites in early December, following further checking of information relevant to the assessments by both BirdLife and IUCN.

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