Justification of Red List Category
This flycatcher, feared extinct until the late 1990s, qualifies as Critically Endangered because it has a tiny range and population, both of which are likely to have undergone major and continuing declines owing to extensive habitat loss. It is hoped that on-going conservation efforts will ensure protection of its remaining habitat and thereby prevent its extinction.
The population is estimated to number 30-106 individuals, roughly equating to 19-105 mature individuals.
The majority of forest on the island of Sangihe has been cleared for cultivation, and remnant patches continue to be degraded, thus the population is suspected to be in decline at an unquantified rate.
The species is endemic to the island of Sangihe, Indonesia (BirdLife International 2001). For over a century it was known only by the type-specimen and was presumed extinct when searches in 1985 and 1986 failed to locate it (although a reported observation in 1978 later came to light). The survival of the species was confirmed in October 1998, followed in due course by the discovery of a population of at least 19 birds at five localities around the base of Gunung Sahendaruman (W. Pangimangen in litt. 2013). Previously the population was estimated to be between 19 and 135 birds (Riley and Wardill 2001) Following surveys carried out in 2003, 2004 and 2006 estimated the total population to be no more that 215 (BirdLife Indonesia 2007), however a survey in 2009 estimated the total population to be 30-106 individuals (Burung Indonesia 2009). Counts of up to six birds continuing into 2013 (W. Pangimangen in litt. 2013).
It is a sedentary insectivore, resident in primary forest (less often in old secondary growth) on steep-sided valley slopes and valley bottoms with streams. Observations have also been made in ridge-top scrub close to a steep, forested gully. It generally feeds in the canopy and sub-canopy of c.15-m tall trees but will also descend to feed in the low understorey. Prey is taken in active flight, perch-gleaning, by undertaking looping sallies and by descending to the ground.
Virtually the entire island of Sangihe has been deforested and converted to agriculture, leaving very little habitat for the species, particularly as it appears to prefer lower elevations. The total area of forest available is not thought to exceed 8 km2, and within this area it is restricted to steep valley habitat (Riley and Wardill 2001) with perhaps a total of just 45-60 ha of suitable habitat (W. Pangimangen in litt. 2012, 2013). Forest continues to be cleared at its fringes by shifting cultivators. Harvesting of forest products and hunting may constitute minor threats (Riley and Wardill 2001). In 2009, it was reported that new government initiatives to plant alien tree species were resulting in the clearance of native forest (Sykes 2009). At first, planting was restricted to areas below 500 m; however, more recent reports indicate that planting is now taking place at higher elevations, in areas at 700-900 m (Sykes 2009). One valley in which three birds were observed in 2004 had been encroached by cultivation by 2009; alien trees being cultivated on Sangihe include nutmeg, coconut, teak and mahogany (W. Pangimangen in litt. 2012, 2013). Landslides represent a further potential threat to remaining habitat (W. Pangimangen in litt. 2012, 2013). Having a montane distribution that is close to the maximum altitude within its range, this species is potentially susceptible to climate change (BirdLife International unpublished data).
Conservation and Research Actions Underway
Since 1995, the Action Sampiri project has been working for biodiversity conservation in Sangihe and Talaud, conducting fieldwork, conservation awareness programmes (including village and school meetings, distribution of leaflets etc.), and developing ideas for future land-use through agreements between interested parties. As a result, plans are in progress to reclassify the existing 4 km2 of protection forest on Gunung Sahengbalira (which supports several other threatened and endemic species and subspecies) as a wildlife reserve, with core areas as a strict nature reserve. There is now a small bird tourism industry on the island which, it is hoped will provide an economic incentive to island residents to conserve remaining forest (Whitten 2006). Furthermore, the Wildlife Conservation Society began four years of project work on Sangihe in 2007, which will provide further opportunities to protect remaining habitat. The Wildlife Conservation Society has also worked on the island since 2007 trying to promote sympathetic land use and development by villages surrounding Gunung Sahengbalira (N. Brickle in litt. 2010). A local resident and former bird guide is monitoring the loss of native forest for plantations of exotic tree species and trying to raise awareness of the threat this poses to E. rowleyi (Sykes 2009).
18 cm. Brightly-coloured flycatcher. Dusky blue upperparts, paler blue-grey underparts. Dusky grey underside of tail. Bare blue eye-ring and bluish bill with darker upper mandible. Similar spp. Male Black-naped Monarch Hypothymis azurea is smaller with inconspicuous black patches on nape, forehead and breast. Voice Contact calls include a loud tuk note, very loud step.....step (emphasis on first syllable) and, typically, a loud chew...chew...chew (Riley and Wardill 2001).
Text account compilers
Bird, J., Davidson, P., Wright, L, Symes, A., Taylor, J., Wheatley, H., Tobias, J., Benstead, P.
Pangimangen, W., Brickle, N.
BirdLife International (2017) Species factsheet: Eutrichomyias rowleyi. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 13/12/2017. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2017) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 13/12/2017.