Blue-headed Pitta Hydrornis baudii


Justification of Red List Category
Given its apparent restriction to lowland forest in an area that has suffered extremely rapid destruction of this habitat as a result of conversion to agriculture following commercial logging and uncontrolled fire, this species is suspected to have undergone rapid population declines that are likely to continue. It therefore qualifies as Vulnerable.

Population justification
The population size is preliminarily estimated to fall into the band 10,000-19,999 mature individuals. This equates to 15,000-29,999 individuals in total, rounded here to 15,000-30,000 individuals.

Trend justification
Rates of forest loss in the Bornean lowlands have been extremely rapid (Kalimantan lost nearly 25% of its evergreen forest during 1985-1997), because of a variety of factors, including the escalation of illegal logging and land conversion, with deliberate targeting of all remaining stands of valuable timber, plus forest fires (particularly in 1997-1998), thus this species's population is suspected to be in rapid decline.

Distribution and population

Hydrornis baudii occurs throughout the lowlands of Borneo, in Sabah and Sarawak, Malaysia, Brunei and Kalimantan, Indonesia (BirdLife International 2001). Although sometimes locally common, its population is fragmented, being confined to extreme lowland forest on level ground. The species has undoubtedly declined owing to extensive deforestation of lowlands within its range.


It is largely restricted to mature, lowland evergreen forest (including regenerating selectively logged forest and old secondary forest), usually extending upslope to 600 m, rarely to 1,200 m. While it occurs in secondary forest, it appears to be most abundant in, and possibly reliant on, primary habitat. It generally keeps to dense cover.


Loss of low-altitude dryland forest is the primary threat to this species. Kalimantan as a whole lost 90,000 km2 of this habitat in the period 1985-1997, representing just under 25% of its 1985 cover, because of a variety of factors, including the escalation of illegal logging and land conversion, with deliberate targeting of all remaining stands of valuable timber, plus forest fires (particularly in 1997-1998). Furthermore, protected areas are by no means exempt: Gunung Palung National Park, for example, has been 80% hand-logged in recent years. The scale of lowland deforestation and destruction throughout Borneo, due to logging, drought and fire, suggests that the overall population of this species continues to decline precipitously.

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
The species occurs in a number of protected areas: Gunung Palung and Tanjung Puting National Parks and Ulu Barito reserve in Kalimantan, Gunung Mulu National Park and Sepilok, Tabin, Gunung Lotung/Maliau Basin, Danum Valley, Tawau Hill Park and Samunsam reserves in Malaysian Borneo.  The degree of protection that these designations actually offer is not known but law enforcement is required. 

Conservation Actions Proposed
Survey lowland forest throughout Borneo to clarify the range, status and ecological requirements of this species, and assess the scale of threats that it faces. Formulate a management strategy for birds largely reliant on lowland forest in the Sundaic region. Promote the effective management of existing protected areas and the expansion of the protected-area network in Borneo. Lobby for reduced logging of lowland forests. Ensure that existing protected areas are adequately protected.


17 cm. Medium-sized, brightly coloured, forest-dwelling pitta. Male with glittering blue crown, black cheeks, rich reddish-brown mantle, black wings marked with white and blue tail. White throat, rest of underparts deep violet-blue. Female has rich fulvous-buff crown and upperparts and buffy cheeks to vent. Similar spp. Several sympatric pittas are similar in shape and habits, but all lack the combination of blue crown and reddish mantle. Voice Soft, descending, trisyllabic whistle ppor-wi-iil, sometimes disyllablic.


Text account compilers
Taylor, J., Benstead, P., Wheatley, H., Martin, R, Allinson, T, Bird, J., Tobias, J.

Yong, D., Davison, G., van Balen, B.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2022) Species factsheet: Hydrornis baudii. Downloaded from on 01/07/2022. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2022) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 01/07/2022.