Forest Rock-thrush Monticola sharpei


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 size has not been quantified, but the species is described as locally common to fairly common, although restricted to eastern Madagascar (del Hoyo et al. 2005).

Trend justification
The population is suspected to be in decline owing to ongoing habitat destruction.

Distribution and population

This species is endemic to the forests of Madagascar. There are two subspecies: M. s. sharpei occurs in the Sambirano region of the north-west and relict forests of the high plateau (Langrand 1990), whilst M. s. bensoni (formerly considered a separate species) has a relatively broad range in south-central and south-western Madagascar (Langrand and Goodman 1996). Populations are found in numerous protected areas: Ambatovaky Special Reserve, Andohahela National Park, Andringitra National Park, Anjanaharibe-South Special Reserve, Ankeniheny Classified Forest, Betampona Natural Reserve, Bezavona Classified Forest, Haute Rantabe Classified Forest, Kalambatritra Special Reserve, Mangerivola Special Reserve, Mantadia National Park, Marojejy National Park, Marotandrano Special Reserve, Masoala National Park, Mindongy-South National Park, Onive Classified Forest, Ramanofana National Park, Tsaratanana Natural Reserve, Vondrozo Classified Forest, Zahamena National Park, Isalo National Park and Zombitse-Vohibasia National Park (Langrand and Goodman 1996, ZICOMA 1999). In 1994 the population density of M. s. sharpei was estimated at 94-216 singing birds per km2 in Ajanaharibe-sud between 1,260 m and 1,950 m (Hawkins et al. 1998), and in 1995 at 38-162 singing birds per km2 in high-altitude forest at Zahamena (Hawkins 1995).


Monticola sharpei sharpei is found in mid-altitude and montane rainforest where it is fairly common, but it is also found on the edges of forest and in open scrubby areas adjacent to high-mountain forest (Morris and Hawkins 1998, ZICOMA 1999). M. s. bensoni inhabits semi-arid rocky country, e.g. cliffs and gorges (Langrand 1990), with adjacent arborescent vegetation which may be bushy or scant, but which also includes remnant dry deciduous forests in the west of its range (Langrand and Goodman 1996). It appears to be able to re-colonize areas of burned ground and regenerating tree-heath Philippia (Langrand and Goodman 1996).


Both subspecies are threatened by habitat destruction for commercial logging and clearance for subsistence agriculture, uncontrolled sapphire mining, with concomitant increases in fire frequency, general hunting and disturbance (A.F.A. Hawkins in litt. 2000).


A small forest-dwelling rock-thrush. Males are blue on head, mantle and upper breast, bright orange on lower breast and belly. Females are brown on back, wings and tail, with paler underparts scalloped and streaked browner. The bases of the outer tail-feathers of both sexes are orange. Similar spp. From Benson's Rock-thrush P. bensoni by overall more intense colours, especially the orange on the breast of the male and the darker brown back and breast-streaking of the female. Hints A discreet denizen of the rainforest understorey. Males are most easily detected by the song, a rather quiet toee toee toee or variants, often delivered from the sub-canopy.


Text account compilers
Ekstrom, J., Butchart, S., Harding, M., Fisher, S., Gilroy, J.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2022) Species factsheet: Monticola sharpei. Downloaded from on 18/08/2022. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2022) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 18/08/2022.