Chestnut-bellied Malkoha Phaenicophaeus sumatranus


Justification of Red List Category
This forest-dependent species is listed as Near Threatened because it is suspected to be undergoing a moderately rapid decline owing to the extensive loss of lowland forests from large areas of the Sundaic lowlands. It is not considered more threatened because it can use secondary habitats and occurs at higher elevations.

Population justification
The global population size has not been quantified, but the species is described as generrally fairly common, although localy very common to uncomon in Thailand (del Hoyo et al. 1997).

Trend justification
Forest destruction in the Sundaic lowlands of Indonesia has been extensive, and the situation is little different in Thailand and Malaysia. However, the species's ability to persist in second growth and at higher elevations, where forest destruction has been less severe, means that its decline has probably been moderately rapid; less rapid than for many lowland primary forest specialists.

Distribution and population

Phaenicophaeus sumatranus occurs from south Tenasserim, Myanmar, through peninsular Thailand, Sabah, Sarawak and Peninsular Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei (uncommon), to Kalimantan (including the North Natuna Islands) and Sumatra, Indonesia (BirdLife International 2001). Overall it remains relatively common through large parts of its range.


It inhabits primary and secondary forest, including mangroves, durian plantations and peatswamp forest, to 1,000 m. It forages quietly and unobtrusively in the dense crowns of trees on a range of arthropods.


Rates of forest loss in the Sundaic lowlands have been extremely rapid (Kalimantan lost nearly 25% of its evergreen forest during 1985-1997, and Sumatra lost almost 30% of its 1985 cover), because of a variety of factors, including the escalation of logging and land conversion, with deliberate targeting of all remaining stands of valuable timber including those inside protected areas, plus forest fires (particularly in 1997-1998).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
None are known.

Conservation Actions Proposed
Protect areas of lowland forest within the species's range. Enforce restrictions on agricultural encroachment and logging within such protected areas. Estimate population trends by calculating rates of forest loss within its range using satellite imagery and remote sensing techniques.


Text account compilers
Benstead, P., Bird, J., Taylor, J.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2022) Species factsheet: Phaenicophaeus sumatranus. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 25/06/2022. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2022) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 25/06/2022.