Archived 2014 discussion: Lilac-cheeked Kingfisher (Cittura cyanotis) is being split: list both C. cyanotis and C. sanghirensis as Near Threatened?

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

Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International will soon publish 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 1 of the checklist (for non-passerines) will begin to be incorporated into the 2014 Red List update, with the remainder, and those for passerines (which will appear in volume 2 of the checklist), 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.

Lilac-cheeked Kingfiher Cittura cyanotis has been split into C. cyanotis and C. sanghirensis following the application of criteria set out by Tobias et al. (2010).

Prior to this taxonomic change, C. cyanotis (BirdLife species factsheet) was listed as Near Threatened under criteria A2c+3c+4c; C1, on the basis that it was thought to have a moderately small population that was suspected to be undergoing a moderately rapid population decline (approaching 30% over three generations [c.17 years]) on the basis of on-going habitat loss and degradation.

C. cyanotis (as defined following the taxonomic change and incorporating modesta) occurs in north-eastern, central-eastern and south-eastern Sulawesi and Lembeh Island, where it inhabits primary and tall secondary lowland, foothill and lower montane forest (Fry and Fry 1999, del Hoyo et al. 2001). It may warrant listing as Near Threatened under criteria A2c+3c+4c;C1, on the basis that it is thought to have a moderately small population, which could be in moderately rapid decline (approaching 30% over three generations [c.17 years]) owing to on-going habitat loss.

C. sanghirensis inhabits similar forest types on Sangihe and Siau (Fry and Fry 1999, del Hoyo et al. 2001). It may warrant listing as Near Threatened under criteria B1ab(ii,iii,v); C2a(i), on the basis that it has a very small range (with an Extent of Occurrence estimated at c.670 km2), in which suitable habitat is not severely fragmented, but may be very fragmented (approaching 50% in patches too small to support viable populations) and is in decline, and it probably has a small population (fewer than 10,000 mature individuals), which is inferred to be in decline, but the species is not thought to have a defined subpopulation structure that increases its susceptibility to extinction.

Comments on these suggested categories are invited and further information would be welcomed.


del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A. and Sargatal, J. (2001) Handbook of the birds of the world, Vol 6: Mousebirds to Hornbills. Barcelona, Spain: Lynx Edicions.

Fry, C. H. and Fry, K. (1999) Kingfishers, bee-eaters & rollers. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

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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5 Responses to Archived 2014 discussion: Lilac-cheeked Kingfisher (Cittura cyanotis) is being split: list both C. cyanotis and C. sanghirensis as Near Threatened?

  1. Simon Mahood says:

    Given its distribution and habitat requirements should C. sangihirensis be in the same threat category as Elegant Sunbird Aethopyga duyvenbodei (EN)?

  2. Jon Riley says:

    C. cyanotis is in pretty much any forested area across north Sulawesi and reasonably common. Also saw it in the south-east peninsula too.
    On Sangihe it has adapted to clove and nutmeg plantations so it couldn’t really be threatened by habitat loss/destruction. the main threat would be the restricted range. In fact, it is quite similar to elegant sunbird and given no-one decided to downgrade that species following our fieldwork then the kingfisher must be classified as endangered by the same logical (although I would argue flawed logic!). Awesome bird though.

  3. Joe Taylor says:

    The following comments were received from Burung Indonesia on 27 February 2014:

    Burung Indonesia has conducted avifauna surveys on Sangihe , during 2004 – 2006 (Mamengko , 2006) and 2009 (Rosyadi , 2009). Lilac – cheeked Kingfisher was observed in both surveys. Rosyadi (2009), mentioned that this species could be observed in the clove plantation , agroforestry , secondary forest , and primary forest , at the altitude of 120-918 meters above sea level .

    Burung Indonesia also made a brief visit to Sahendaruman Mountains , in January 2014. Encounter occurs 4 times during a 9 hour observation . The encounters occurred at the altitude of 500-850 meters above sea level in primary and secondary forests ( Bashari , pers.obs) . It was also reported this species could also be found in the mixed garden surrounding settlements (Airing , pers.comm)

    The proposed status of Cittura sanghirensis as Near Threatened, does not seem to be apropriate. We propose this species to be included in Vulnerable or Endangered . Brief observation made by Burung Indonesia , 2014 (Bashari pers.obs) shows the encounter rate of this species is not more often than the Endangered Elegant Sunbird (Aethopyga duyvenbodei ). Despite this species’s tolerance of secondary habitats, moderate population declines are suspected to be continuing, as both primary and secondary forest habitats are being affected by encroachment and fragmentation throughout its range. Sahendaruman mountains, at present is the only natural forest remaining in Sangihe. area of approximately 550 ha in 2005 and may be less at present (Mamengko & Mole, 2005).


    Mamengko, C. L. 2006. Survei Populasi dan Habitat Seriwang Sangihe (Eutrichomyias rowleyi) di kawasan Gunung Sahandaruman, Sangihe. BirdLife Indonesia, Sangihe–Talaud. Laporan Teknis.

    Mamengko, C. L. and J. Mole. 2005. Monitoring Partisipatif Tutupan Hutan Kawasan Gunung Sahandaruman, Sangihe. BirdLife Indonesia Program Sangihe-Talaud. Laporan Teknis.

    Rosyadi, I. (in preparation). Survey Burung di Hutan Lindung Sahendaruman. Burung Indonesia. Bogor.

  4. Joe Taylor says:

    Preliminary proposals

    Based on available information and comments posted above, our preliminary proposals for the 2014 Red List would be to treat:

    C. cyanotis as Least Concern

    C. sanghirensis as Near Threatened under criterion B1ab(ii,iii,v)

    There is now a period for further comments until the final deadline of 31 March, after which recommended categorisations will be put forward to IUCN.

    The final Red List categories will be published on the BirdLife and IUCN websites in mid-2014, following further checking of information relevant to the assessments by both BirdLife and IUCN.

  5. Andy Symes says:

    Recommended categorisations to be put forward to IUCN

    Following further review, there have been no changes to our preliminary proposals for the 2014 Red List status of these species.

    The final categorisations will be published later in 2014, following further checking of information relevant to the assessments by BirdLife and IUCN.

Comments are closed.