Archived 2014 discussion: Moustached Kingfisher (Actenoides bougainvillei) is being split: list both A. bougainvillei and A. excelsus as Endangered?

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.

Moustached Kingfisher Actenoides bougainvillei is being split into A. bougainvillei and A. excelsus, following the application of criteria set out by Tobias et al. (2010).

Prior to this taxonomic change, A. bougainvillei (BirdLife species factsheet) was listed as Vulnerable under criteria C2a(i); D1, on the basis that it was estimated to have a very small population (250-999 mature individuals), which was suspected to be declining, at least in part of its range.

A. bougainvillei (as defined following the taxonomic change) is endemic to Bougainville, where it inhabits forest in the lowlands and hills; A. excelsus is endemic to Guadalcanal, where it is found in closed-canopy forest in montane areas (del Hoyo et al. 2001).

It is suggested that both species be listed as Endangered under criterion C2a(ii), on the basis that they are both estimated to have very small populations (fewer than 2,500 mature individuals, and probably fewer than 1,000), each forming a single subpopulation, and are inferred to be in decline owing to habitat loss and degradation, as well as the potential impacts of introduced species.

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.

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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3 Responses to Archived 2014 discussion: Moustached Kingfisher (Actenoides bougainvillei) is being split: list both A. bougainvillei and A. excelsus as Endangered?

  1. Guy Dutson says:

    Population sizes are difficult to estimate as very few people have reached the altitudes inhabited by these species, and are likley to have overlooked them unless their calls are known. My only record is of birds heard daily between 1300-1550 m on Guadalcanal, possibly only relating to one or two moving birds. I would assume that the Bougainville taxon is also montane, as indicated by specimen records, contra previous published suggestions that it inhabits lowland forest, based I think on a single unsubstantiated field observation.

  2. 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:

    A. bougainvillei as Endangered under criterion C2a(ii)

    A. excelsus as Endangered under criterion C2a(ii)

    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.

  3. 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.

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