Grey-headed Robin Heteromyias cinereifrons


Justification of Red List Category
Recent monitoring data indicate moderately rapid declines of this species in response to climate change, especially at lower elevations. For this reason, it is assessed as Near Threatened.

Population justification
The abundance of H. cinereifrons is calculated from the density and distribution of birds and the area of climatically suitable habitat at different altitudes in 2016 (Williams et al. 2010a).

Trend justification
There has been a decline in population size in the last three generations, as predicted by climate change modelling (Williams et al. 2003, Li et al. 2009). Annual monitoring undertaken from 2000–2016 (1,970 plots, 62 different locations, 0–1,500 m altitude) revealed a highly significant 26.6% decline in the total population over the three generations to 2016 from an estimated 840,000 to 610,000 individuals. Declines occurred at lower, mid- and higher altitudes (Williams & de la Fuente 2021). These declines are broadly consistent with a 19% decline between 2000–2007 and 2013–2019 in the proportion of weeks in which the species was recorded (from 94% to 76%) at the School for Field Studies Centre near Danbulla (740–780 m; A. Freeman and M. Craig unpublished, in Williams et al. 2021) and in reporting rates for 2-ha 20-min surveys and 500-m radius area searches from 1999–2018 that declined at a rate of 44% and 12% in three generations respectively (BirdLife Australia 2020). Combining these analyses, Williams et al. (2021) estimated a global rate of decline approaching 30% over the past three generations (13.8 years; Bird et al. 2020).

Distribution and population

Grey-headed Robins are endemic to the Wet Tropics of north Queensland, Australia, from Mount Amos in the north, south to Paluma, Bluewater Range and Mount Elliott near Townsville and inland to the Windsor Tableland and Ravenshoe (Higgins and Peter 2002).


Grey-headed Robins occur in upland rainforest, formerly attaining their highest densities at 1000 m (Williams et al. 2010b), feeding primarily on insects obtained by pouncing down to the leaf litter (Frith 1984). They lay 1–2 eggs in a cup nest built in a tree fork (Frith and Frith 2000).


Climate change is the only known threat and could be having both direct effects as a result of increased mortality during heat waves, which have been longer and hotter in the last two decades, and an indirect effect because the dry season has been longer, drier and hotter, which is likely to have reduced resource availability (Williams et al. 2010b, Williams and de la Fuente 2021). Models predict that heat will have a greater impact than rainfall (Li et al. 2009).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
Almost the entire range is within protected areas.

Conservation Actions Proposed
Monitor population trends at all elevations. Understand constraints on population size and survival. Identify reasons for sensitivity to climate change and options for countering them. Develop strategies for maintaining remaining populations. Apply adaptation strategies as required.


Text account compilers
Vine, J., Berryman, A.

Butchart, S., Fisher, S., Ekstrom, J. & Wheatley, H.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2022) Species factsheet: Heteromyias cinereifrons. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 01/10/2022. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2022) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 01/10/2022.