Justification of Red List Category
This species is classified as Vulnerable because it has a small population which is likely to be experiencing on-going declines owing to forest loss. It may be endemic to a single island, but identification difficulties mean that it is difficult to determine its true distribution, abundance, and hence its status.
The population is, very cautiously, estimated to number 2,500-9,999 mature individuals based on an assessment of known records, descriptions of abundance and range size. This is consistent with recorded population density estimates for congeners or close relatives with a similar body size, and the fact that only a proportion of the estimated Extent of Occurrence is likely to be occupied. This estimate is equivalent to 3,750-14,999 individuals, rounded here to 3,500-15,000 individuals.
Owing to this species's preference for lowland forest, habitat loss is suspected to be driving a moderate decline in its population.
Philemon fuscicapillus may be endemic to the island of Morotai (doubts have been raised over previous reports from Halmahera from where no specimens originate and no records can be traced to Bacan [see Besson 2012]) in North Maluku, Indonesia (BirdLife International 2001). It was considered very common on Morotai in 1945. Assessment of its true status on Halmahera is severely hampered owing to visual mimicry by O. phaeochromus, and the possibility that it is largely overlooked in the canopy of tall trees.
The species has been recorded in the canopy of primary and logged forest. It has also been found commonly in secondary vegetation (bush) and coconut plantations. Most records appear to be from the extreme lowlands (below 120 m), although it ascends rarely to 600 m.
Although it may be tolerant of quite severe habitat degradation, the primary threat is presumed to be forest loss, especially given its predilection for low elevations. It was reported in the 1990s that most of North Maluku, including around 90% of Halmahera and Bacan, remained forested. However, forest loss and fragmentation has accelerated greatly, through exploitation of economically valuable trees, and most remaining forest is now under timber concession. In addition, plans for agricultural development threaten further losses of original habitat.
Conservation Actions Underway
No direct measures are known. However, it may occur in the Lalobata and Ake Tajawe proposed protected area, which embraces c.3,550 km2 of all forest-types on the north-east peninsula of Halmahera, or the Gunung Sibela Strict Nature Reserve on Bacan, although this site is seriously threatened by agricultural encroachment and gold prospecting.
30 cm. Large, drab, forest-dwelling friarbird. Dark brown throughout, slightly paler below. Pink bare orbital skin. Heavy black bill with indistinct knob at base of culmen. Similar spp. Dusky-brown Oriole Oriolus phaeochromus almost identical, but smaller, with blunter bill, darker underparts and without bare pinkish skin around eye. Voice Probably gives variety of loud, coarse and nasal notes, although potentially mimicked by O. phaeochromus.
Text account compilers
Taylor, J., Tobias, J., Benstead, P., Bird, J., Butchart, S., Westrip, J.
BirdLife International (2022) Species factsheet: Philemon fuscicapillus. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 03/07/2022. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2022) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 03/07/2022.