Cebu Flowerpecker Dicaeum quadricolor


Justification of Red List category
This species has an extremely small and declining population. Its range is very small and severely fragmented, owing to catastrophic deforestation which, although it has now slowed, is continuing. These factors qualify it as Critically Endangered.

Population justification
In 2005, the population was estimated at 85-105 individuals. (L. M. J. Paguntalan in litt. 2005), roughly equivalent to 60-70 mature individuals.

Trend justification
Given that very little forest remains, the rate of population decline has likely slowed down (L. M. J. Paguntalan in litt. 2005).

Distribution and population

Dicaeum quadricolor is endemic to the island of Cebu in the Philippines (Collar et al. 1999). In the late 1800s, it was known from just two localities, where it was considered not uncommon. Early in the 20th century, it was feared to have become extinct because all the island's forest was thought to have been cleared. However, it was rediscovered in 1992 at a forest in Tabunan (80 ha, plus another 40 ha of surrounding fragments), where it was seen most recently in 2007 (L. M. J. Paguntalan in litt. 2007, 2008). Since 1992, it has been found at three further forests, Nug-As (c.700 ha) (L. M. J. Paguntalan in litt. 2005; Paguntalan and Jakosalem 2008), Dalaguete (c.80 ha) (L. M. J. Paguntalan in litt. 2005) and Mt Lantoy (c.30 ha). In 2010, there were at least two sightings of this species by forest wardens in the Alcoy area, including a pair in the vicinity of human habitation (R. S. S. Ybañez in litt. 2010). In 2017, five observations of Cebu Flowerpecker at two of eight monitoring points at Nug-As confirm its persistence (C. Debenham to M. Hoffmann in litt. 2017).
Three other areas of forest exist, but the species has not yet been reported from them: Caurasan-Mt. Kapayas (c.100 ha), Tuburan (300 ha including exotic plantations) and Malabuyoc (30 ha) (L. M. J. Paguntalan in litt. 2005). Population declines are now likely to be fairly slow because so little forest remains, and that which does is located in areas difficult to cultivate or without water (L. M. J. Paguntalan in litt. 2005). The maximum number of individuals seen together at any of these four sites is just four birds, and the current population is estimated at c.100 individuals, with 50-60 at Nug-As, 25-30 at Tabunan, and 10-15 at Dalaguete (L. M. J. Paguntalan in litt. 2005). However, there are no confirmed records from the past decade aside from those at Nug-As. The most recent record here was between March and April 2019 (L. M. J. Paguntalan in litt. 2020). 


Historically, the species was considered to be strictly confined to forest. Recent observations clearly indicate an association with the tallest remaining forest patches up to c.500 m, most of which are on karst limestone. It evidently frequents open and closed-canopy forests (Cheke et al. 2020), as well as secondary and selectively logged areas, but always next to a larger patch of native vegetation (L. M. J. Paguntalan in litt. 2005). It has been observed feeding on mistletoe-like plants (Loranthus sp.), small, ripe Ficus fruits (L. M. J. Paguntalan in litt. 2005) and a flowering native tree, Callopyhllum sp. (P. G. Jakosalem in litt. 2012). Breeding is suspected to take place between February and August (L. M. J. Paguntalan in litt. 2007, 2008).


In the 1890s, the small amount of forest remaining was rapidly being cleared. A century later, Cebu retained barely 0.03% (c.15 km2) of its original forest cover, and even the most degraded secondary habitats were scarce. The few remaining tracts of forest are variously threatened by illegal settlement, road construction, shifting cultivation, illicit logging, charcoal making, firewood collection and habitat clearance for mining. Interspecific competition with Red-keeled Flowerpecker Dicaeum australe may have accelerated the species's decline, given the extreme shortage of available habitat. The species may have suffered from the impacts of Typhoon Haiyan, which in many areas stripped trees bare of leaves and fruit (De Win 2013).

Conservation actions

Conservation and Research Actions Underway
Nug-As Forest is managed and protected by three People's Organisations with Community-based Forest Management Agreements with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. From 1999 until 2004, the Cebu Biodiversity Conservation Foundation conducted habitat rehabilitation activities using native species and forest protection activities in Tabunan, controlling timber poaching and forest clearing and encouraging regeneration of secondary growth areas. The initiative also maintained the remaining mature secondary forest cover and increased the native vegetation cover through regeneration of secondary growth habitats (L. M. J. Paguntalan in litt. 2007, 2008). Reforestation in areas near and adjacent to Tabunan Forest is on-going (R. S. S. Ybañez in litt. 2010). Habitat rehabilitation activities are now largely concentrated in the southern part of Cebu, where the larger forests of Alcoy lie in close proximity to four other remaining forest patches. The establishment of corridors has been initiated to link up Nug-As forest to Dalaguete and the Malabuyoc-Alegria area (L. M. J. Paguntalan in litt. 2007, 2008). Forest cover has been increased by the planting of at least 10 ha of forest each year and the protection of secondary growth areas, and at least six municipalities have conducted habitat rehabilitation activities. Nug-as forests have thus seen recent increases in quality and extent of coverage (L. M. J. Paguntalan in litt. 2020). 
Local forest wardens regularly conduct forest patrols in both Nug-As and Dalaguete forest patches, supported by the Municipal Government under the Forest and Wildlife Protection Program (L. M. J. Paguntalan in litt. 2007, 2008). Malabuyoc, which may hold this species, is within the borders of a cement company reserve (L. M. J. Paguntalan in litt. 2005). Mt. Lantoy was declared as a Watershed Forest Reserve (Presidential Proclamation no. 414 dated 29 June 1994) and was considered as part of the initial component of National Integrated Protected Area System Act (NIPAS Act). A Protected Area Management Board was created to manage the protected area. In December 2006, a new Executive Order was issued by then President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo reducing the watershed reserve area coverage from 7,265 ha to 3,000 ha (L. M. J. Paguntalan in litt. 2007, 2008). The Central Cebu National Park, together with four other Watershed Forest Reserves, was consolidated to form the Central Cebu Protected Landscape (CCPL) under Republic Act 9486 or Central Cebu Protected Landscape Act of 2007. A Protected Area Management Board handles the management of the consolidated protected area (L. M. J. Paguntalan in litt. 2007, 2008). More recently, a Cebu Flowerpecker watch was organised in April 2020 on Nug-as (L. M. J. Paguntalan in litt. 2020).
Field research into the species's ecology is on-going (L. M. J. Paguntalan in litt. 2007, 2008). A project document on Saving the Cebu Flowerpecker was finalised in late 2010 (R. S. S. Ybañez in litt. 2010).

Conservation and Research Actions Proposed
Identify all remnant forest tracts on Cebu and urgently survey them for remaining populations. Research the species's ecology, particularly interactions with D. australe. Continue to fund and implement management activities at Tabunan. Support the proposal to designate Mt Lantoy as a national park, and urgently propose all remaining forest tracts on Cebu, including Nug-As, for strict formal protection.


Size 11-12 cm. Rather stocky flowerpecker with rather short, stout bill. Male has conspicuous pattern, with blackish head, bright scarlet-red mantle and back, yellowish-green rump, blackish-blue wings and tail, and greyish-white underparts with paler ventral stripe. Female duller overall, with dark greyish back (lacking any red) and brownish-grey underparts. Similar spp. Plumage (especially red back of male) readily distinguishes it from sympatric flowerpeckers (e.g. Red-keeled Flowerpecker D. australe). Voice Song typical of genus, comprising a series of thin, high-pitched, sweet notes, and calls with a thin seep interspersed with harder ticking notes.


Text account compilers
Martin, R., Fernando, E.

Allinson, T, Benstead, P., Bird, J., Debenham, C., Hoffmann, M., Jakosalem, P.G., Lowen, J., Paguntalan, L., Paguntalan, L.M.J., Pilgrim, J., Symes, A., Taylor, J., Wright, L & Ybañez, R.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Species factsheet: Dicaeum quadricolor. Downloaded from on 06/12/2023.
Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2023) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 06/12/2023.