Kofiau Paradise-kingfisher Tanysiptera ellioti


Justification of Red List Category
This species has a small range (and perhaps a relatively small population) and its habitat is being slowly lost and degraded. It is therefore listed as Near Threatened.

Population justification
The population size of this species is unknown. Approximately 137 km2 of forest was left in this species' range in 2020 (Global Forest Watch [2021], using data from Hansen et al. [2013] and methods disclosed therein). The population was previously estimated to number 250-999 mature individuals, however was described as abundant by Diamond et al. (2009) and it occurs in primary and secondary forest as well as shaded gardens. eBird (2021) data appear to corroborate this, with a single checklist documenting 10 individuals on a 2-mile walk, more than any other forest bird (but also, given its loud vocalisations, presumably it is among the most detectable). Given the high densities recorded in other Tanysiptera (Bell [1982], for example, recorded densities of up to 500 individuals/km2 of T. galatea, although this is probably exceptional) and the qualitative descriptions of its abundance, it is difficult to estimate the population size of this species; however, the population is considered very unlikely to number fewer than 1,000 mature individuals.

Trend justification
Although the species persists in traditional gardens, it is apparently most common in closed-canopy primary and secondary forest. Tree cover loss in this species has been minimal (equivalent to c.2% over the past three generations; Global Forest Watch [2021], using data from Hansen et al. [2013] and methods disclosed therein); however, there are additional reports of selective logging (see Diamond et al. 2009, Beehler and Pratt 2016) indicating degradation that is precautionarily thought to be causing a slow decline in mature individuals. The rate of this decline however remains unquantified.

Distribution and population

Tanysiptera ellioti is endemic to Kofiau in the West Papuan islands of Indonesia, where it is abundant in primary and secondary forest (Diamond et al. 2009).


Previous research suggested it can inhabit "most" habitats in the lowlands, including primary forest and tall secondary forest (Beehler et al. 1986, K. D. Bishop in litt. 1994). Further surveys suggest that it is most abundant in primary and secondary forest, although it can be found persisting in traditional gardens (Diamond et al. 2009, eBird 2021). Visits to north-western Kofiau in 2012 and 2019 found the species to be common in lightly wooded village gardens, secondary forest, selectively logged forest and tall primary forest (K. D. Bishop in litt. 2013, van Beirs 2019). There is circumstantial evidence that immature individuals may only occur in tall, closed-canopy forests (Diamond et al. 2009). Individuals perch at 1-12 m and are not thought to venture up into the canopy (Diamond et al. 2009).


Much of Kofiau has been selectively logged, and currently the island has no protected area (K. D. Bishop in litt. 1994, 2000). The remaining forest is in slow decline owing to slash-and-burn agriculture, both for subsistence gardens and coconut groves, and small-scale timber extraction (Diamond et al. 2009). Having a distribution on relatively low-lying islands, this species is potentially susceptible to climate change through sea-level rise and shifts in suitable climatic conditions, although the extent to which this would affect T. ellioti is wholly unknown.

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
No targeted conservation actions are known for this species.

Conservation Actions Proposed
Carry out a major survey of Kofiau to assess the current population size. Clarify the species' ecological preferences and tolerance of habitat degradation. Establish a monitoring programme to assess population trends. Establish a protected area on the island to ensure the on-going presence of primary forest.


Text account compilers
Berryman, A.

Beehler, B.M., Bishop, K.D., Calvert, R., Symes, A. & Taylor, J.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Species factsheet: Tanysiptera ellioti. Downloaded from http://datazone.birdlife.org/species/factsheet/kofiau-paradise-kingfisher-tanysiptera-ellioti on 06/06/2023. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2023) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://datazone.birdlife.org on 06/06/2023.