Dusky Friarbird Philemon fuscicapillus


Justification of Red List Category
This species has a small range confined to the island of Morotai, Indonesia. It is relatively adaptive to degraded habitats but nonetheless is thought to be impacted by ongoing forest loss and degradation on the island. However, this remains slow and the species' population is not believed to be small. For these reasons it is listed as Near Threatened.

Population justification
The population size of this species has not been formally estimated although it is described as fairly common (Eaton et al. 2016) to common (eBird 2022). The densities of other Philemon species vary greatly, but typically exceed 100 individuals/km2 (see, e.g., Marsden et al. 1997) such that with c.1,700 km2 of forest being left within its mapped range in 2021 (Global Forest Watch 2022, based on data from Hansen et al. [2013] and methods disclosed therein), the total population size of this species is likely to be substantial even if only a portion of the mapped range is occupied.

Trend justification
Data on population trends are not available, but this species presumably remains stable across much of its range, as habitats are relatively intact. Habitat loss has occurred on a local scale (especially in more coastal, accessible parts of the island), equal to a total reduction in forest cover extent in its range of 7-8% in the three generations to 2021 (Global Forest Watch 2022, based on data from Hansen et al. [2013] and methods disclosed therein). As a forest-dependent species, this is thought to have caused approximately equivalent reductions in population size, and these losses are projected to occur at the same rate in the future.

Distribution and population

The species is endemic to Morotia, Indonesia, with previous attribution to its occurrence on Bacan and Halmahera likely erroneous (see Besson 2012, Eaton et al. 2016).


It inhabits forest (including logged) and forest edge; it is apparently also at least visiting secondary vegetation and coconut plantations (Eaton et al. 2016). It occurs to c. 600 m.


The primary threat to this species is forest loss. Within its range, c.7-8% of forest cover was removed in the three generations to 2021 (Global Forest Watch 2022, based on Hansen et al. [2013]) and this is thought to have had a broadly proportional impact on the species' population, although it is somewhat tolerant of degradation.

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
No direct measure is known.

Conservation Actions Proposed
Conduct extensive surveys (especially within proposed or established protected areas) to establish its distribution, status, ecological requirements and altitudinal limits. Propose areas supporting populations of this (and other threatened) species for establishment as protected areas, where appropriate. Initiate conservation awareness campaigns to solicit local support for forest conservation.


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. Halmahera 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
Berryman, A.

Benstead, P., Bird, J., Bishop, K.D., Butchart, S., Taylor, J., Tobias, J. & Westrip, J.R.S.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2022) Species factsheet: Philemon fuscicapillus. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 10/12/2022. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2022) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 10/12/2022.