Dusky Scrubfowl Megapodius freycinet


Justification of Red List Category
Although this species may have a restricted range, it is not believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size has not been quantified, but it is not believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.

Population justification
The global population has been estimated at 10,000-100,000 individuals or, alternatively, under 5,000 birds (Dekker & McGowan 1995). Given the size of the range and observed densities in parts of the range (up to 67 individuals/km2) the population appears unlikely to be at the lower end of these figures. The species is described as common on Halmahera but scarce elsewhere (del Hoyo et al. 1994), but was still common in Manusela National Park in Seram in the late 1980s (Bowler and Taylor 1989). There appear to be very few recent records on Ternate (Kirwan et al. 2020a). Breeding sites are more widespread, the species is possibly tolerant of habitat degradation and is less intensively exploited than Moluccan Scrubfowl (Heij et al. 1997; Kirwan et al. 2020b). However it is still exploited where encountered and this is suspected to be sufficiently intense as to be causing a slow population reduction.

Trend justification
The population is declining owing to hunting pressure, degradation and destruction of suitable habitat and possibly predation by introduced predators (Kirwan et al. 2020a), although there seems little evidence for the latter. However the species is still common in parts of its range, e.g. Halmahera (Kirwan et al. 2020a).

Distribution and population

This species occurs throughout the Moluccan islands, Indonesia, and eastwards to western Papuan islands, including Misool, Waigeo and Batanta, and with scattered records along the northwest coast of the Bird's Head Peninsula, Papua.


This species is a mound-building megapode, which is often found in wet areas such as mangroves, swamp forest and sago plantations; it has been reported to 600 m in elevation (Jones et al. 1995). Mounds are often situated near to coast, but were reported up to 14 km inland on Misool (Kirwan et al. 2020a).


The species is exploited for food through the harvesting of eggs from nesting mounds and trapping of adults in some areas of the range. It has a moderate level of forest dependency and the conversion of lowland forest to agricultural plantation within the range is likely to have reduced the overall population. The introduction of domestic animals may impact the species in some areas of the range, though the severity of this is unclear. Celebes Wild Boar Sus celebensis was introduced in historic times to Halmahera, but it is unclear if they have had any impact on Dusky Scrubfowl populations. Domestic dogs are considered a likely threat to the species close to settlement, but again there is no direct evidence of impacts.


Text account compilers
Martin, R.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2022) Species factsheet: Megapodius freycinet. Downloaded from on 04/07/2022. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2022) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 04/07/2022.