Black-crowned Barwing Actinodura sodangorum


Justification of Red List category
This species qualifies as Near Threatened as, although there is no discernible decline, both its population and range are estimated to be small.

Population justification
The population was previously estimated to number 2,500-9,999 individuals, based on an assessment of known records, descriptions of abundance and range size. However, the species has since been found at additional locations, extending its known range and suggesting that the population estimate should be revised upwards. As a result the population is now placed in the band for 10,000-19,999 individuals, roughly equivalent to 6,600-13,400 mature individuals.

Trend justification
The population status of this species is very poorly known. It is suspected to be stable on the basis that it favours secondary habitats and that human activities are resulting in both the creation and destruction of such habitats, and thus an on-going turn-over in suitable areas with, however, no discernible net change in recent years (R. J. Timmins in litt. 2013). The area of suitable habitat in Laos may in fact be increasing, at least temporarily (S. Mahood in litt. 2012, J. W. Duckworth in litt. 2013), but further investigation is needed.

Distribution and population

Actinodura sodangorum is currently known from just seven associated localities in Kontum province in the western highlands of Viet Nam, and at least three distinct localities in south-eastern Laos - Dakchung Plateau, Xe Sap and Kaleum district (BirdLife International 2001, T. Gray in litt. 2012, 2013). It is predicted to occur at other locations in the Xe Kong, Salavan and Attopu provinces of south-eastern Laos, with confirmed records in Quang Nam Province, Song Thanh Nature Reserve, and Phuoc Son District, Vietnam (L. Hung in litt. 2020). It appears to be locally distributed, but not uncommon within its known range. It is thought likely that the greater Xe Sap region supports a significant proportion of the global population (T. Gray in litt. 2013).


It occurs mainly in secondary growth and evergreen forest at c.1,000-2,400 m, including small forest fragments with banana groves amid shifting cultivation and scrub on steeply sloping hillsides. Recent observations in Laos suggest that it favours disturbed and secondary habitats, with no obvious reliance on the presence of nearby mature forest remnants (R. J. Timmins in litt. 2013). However, there are also recent records from hill evergreen and Ericaceous cloud-forest (T. Gray in litt. 2013), as well as tall, damp grassland and scrub adjacent to evergreen forest and open pine woodland. It appears to be genuinely localised in mature forest (R. J. Timmins in litt. 2013) and, despite the range of habitats occupied by the species, its localised occurrence may indicate some so-far unknown limiting factor (J. Pilgrim in litt. 2013). All sightings have been of single birds or pairs, with one record of association with Black-headed Sibia Heterophasia melanoleuca.


Further information is required on its habitat utilisation before specific threats can be identified. Shifting cultivation may be the greatest potential threat. In Ngoc Linh Nature Reserve, Viet Nam, 13% of evergreen forest was lost between 1976 and 1995. However, given that the species occurs in secondary growth, seral forest formations, tall grass and scrub, it is unclear if it is seriously threatened by deforestation. Indeed, the clearance of primary forest may benefit the species, and although some forest areas have been completely converted to agriculture, the human population density is low enough to allow field margins and forest patches to persist (S. Mahood in litt. 2012). Suitable habitat in Laos may be increasing, at least temporarily (J. W. Duckworth in litt. 2013). If the presence of the species in some areas is indeed facilitated by human activities, any shift in land practices resulting in a net loss of suitable secondary habitats is likely to negatively impact the species. Another significant potential threat is a proposed major road development that will improve access to its range in Viet Nam.

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
It occurs in Ngoc Linh Nature Reserve, the boundaries of which were established in 1999.

Conservation Actions Proposed
Conduct further surveys in Laos and Viet Nam to determine the species's total range, distribution and approximate population size. Conduct further research into the species's habitat requirements. Carry out population monitoring. Undertake training and education activities at Ngoc Linh Nature Reserve and in other areas. Support the expansion of Ngoc Linh Nature Reserve into Quang Nam province and seek protected status for additional areas of suitable habitat.


24cm. Slender babbler with deep buff underparts, olive-brown mantle, darkish wings, grey head-sides and black crown. Outer greater coverts are buff with black bars. Chestnut tail strongly barred with black. Similar spp. Spectacled Barwing A. ramsayi has more conspicuous white eye-ring, more rufous wings and no black on crown. Voice Mournful, high-pitched, descending iee-iee-iee-iuu, sometimes accompanied by second individual giving high-pitched, steady ewh-ewh-ewh.


Text account compilers
Fernando, E.

Allinson, T, Benstead, P., Duckworth, J.W., Gilroy, J., Gray, T., Hung, L., Mahood, S., Pilgrim, J., Taylor, J., Timmins, R.J. & Westrip, J.R.S.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2024) Species factsheet: Actinodura sodangorum. Downloaded from https://datazone.birdlife.org/species/factsheet/black-crowned-barwing-actinodura-sodangorum on 25/02/2024.
Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2024) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from https://datazone.birdlife.org on 25/02/2024.