Archived 2016 topics: White-bellied Minivet (Pericrocotus erythropygius) is being split: request for information on P. albifrons.

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.

White-bellied Minivet Pericrocotus erythropygius is being split into P. erythropygius and P. albifrons, following the application of criteria set out by Tobias et al. (2010).

Prior to this taxonomic change, Pericrocotus erythropygius was listed as Least Concern on the basis that it did not approach the threshold for Vulnerable under any criterion. P. erythropygius (as now defined following the taxonomic change) is found in open habitats in west and central India, including grasslands, dry cultivated land and sometimes in semi-desert (Taylor 2016). Within its range it is uncommon to rare and very local (del Hoyo et al. 2005). However, in the absence of any substantial threat or suspected declines, it is thought that this species does not approach the threshold for Vulnerable under any criteria and so it is proposed that it be listed as Least Concern.

P. albifrons is uncommon to rare in the plains of Myanmar (Taylor 2016). It has a large range (Extent of Occurrence: 162,500km2) but it is suspected to have undergone a large decline, as the pre-split species had formerly been regarded as common in this country (Taylor 2016). We request further information about the threats that have affected this species, and any additional information regarding its population trend to see whether this species qualifies as, or approaches the threshold for, Vulnerable under criterion A2c.


del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A. and Christie, D. 2005. Handbook of the Birds of the World, vol. 10: Cuckoo-shrikes to Thrushes. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.

Taylor, B. (2016). White-bellied Minivet (Pericrocotus erythropygius). 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 12 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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4 Responses to Archived 2016 topics: White-bellied Minivet (Pericrocotus erythropygius) is being split: request for information on P. albifrons.

  1. Asad Rahmani says:

    White-bellied Minivet Pericrocotus erythropygius is perhaps much more uncommon than we think. It is found in tropical dry thorn forests of mainly central India, with few records from elsewhere. It lives in areas where not many birdwatchers go so we have limited records, even in e-Birds. Its distribution shown in Rasmussen and BirdLife is huge, almost half of India, but its area of occupancy could be limited due to its habitat preference. We need to assess its distribution and status. This is an endemic species that should be kept in “Birds to Watch” list.

    • Praveen J says:

      I agree with this comment.
      Though there are 240 records from western, central and southern India in eBird, they are concentrated in a few pockets which supports the right habitat with large intervening areas of unsuitable landscape. Even in its suitable habitat, the bird is rare.
      EOO (using MCP) is definitely huge, AOO would be much lesser but since its a habitat specialist – but still it is unlikely to hit AOO thresholds as it appear to be present in several small patches. However, what is definitely true is the decline in its habitat.
      From 1930 to 2013, Deccan (31.36%) and Semi-Arid (32.86%) where this species is found has lost more forests than national average (28.01%) or the Western Ghats (27.61%) where most threatened species in India are.
      From 1975 to 2013, the trend is still the same. Deccan (5.50%) and Semi-Arid (3.12%) while it is Western Ghats (2.25%). Hence, similar decisions like that of Nilgiri Wood-Pigeon “This pigeon qualifies as Vulnerable owing to its small, declining population; a consequence of the widespread destruction of its forest habitat.” should also hold good for White-bellied Minivet.

      Reddy, C. S., Jha, C. S., Dadhwal, V. K., Krishna, P. H., Pasha, S. V., Satish, K. V., Dutta, K., Saranya, K. R. L., Rakesh, F., Rajashekar, G. and Diwakar, P. G. 2016. Quantification and monitoring of deforestation in India over eight decades (1930-2013). Biodiv. And Conserv. 25: 93-116

  2. Simon Mahood says:

    Indeed, presumably P. erythropygius has a similar threat level to other India dry zone endemics. I find it hard to believe that a minivet occurs in grasslands as stated above.

  3. James Westrip (BirdLife) says:

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

    P. albifrons precautionarily as Near Threatened under criterion A2c.

    P. erythropygius as Least Concern. While we recognise the concerns for this species it is not thought that it approaches the threshold for Vulnerable under any criterion. Its range and population size are likely sufficiently large that criteria B, C and D are not appropriate and there has been no quantitative analysis of extinction risk and so neither is criterion E. Criterion A requires a decline of >30% within the past 10 years for listing as Vulnerable. This does not appear to be the case and hence the species would not approach the threshold for Vulnerable under any criterion and warrants listing as Least Concern.

    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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