Kretschmer's Longbill Macrosphenus kretschmeri


Justification of Red List category
This species has a very large range, and hence does not 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 common on Netia, Mozambique; otherwise uncommon to locally common (del Hoyo et al. 2006).

Trend justification
The population is suspected to be in decline owing to ongoing habitat destruction (del Hoyo et al. 2006).

Distribution and population

This species is known from south-east Kenya (one record from Kitovu Forest, possibly a vagrant), east Tanzania, from Mt Kilimanjaro, Moshi and the Usambaras south to the Ngurus, Ulugurus and Udzungwas (Mwanihana and Magombera forests), on the coast in Kiono, Pugu, Kazimzumbwe and Kiwengoma forests and in the south-east at Mikindani, and from north Mozambique at Netia (Urban et al. 1997).


The species inhabits lowland and intermediate forest up to 1,800 m, where it is found in dense, tangled cover from undergrowth to mid-stratum under tall trees in the forest interior, and also in forest edge and coastal thickets. It occurs singly, in pairs, or in parties of 5-6, also joining mixed species parties with bulbuls, flycatchers, puffbacks and drongos foraging for insects in the leaf litter. It is extremely elusive and hard to see although it sings continuously. Its breeding ecology is unknown, although birds in breeding condition have been found in Tanzania in February and April (Urban et al. 1997).


Forest destruction is prevalent in parts of the species's range. In the Usambaras the large human population is putting increasing pressure on land and the forests are highly fragmented (Stattersfield et al. 1998). In the Ulugurus the main montane forest block has been protected by its extremely inaccessible terrain, but forest here only covers c.120 km² and the lower slopes are being steadily cleared, again as a result of an increasing human population (Stattersfield et al. 1998).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
Mwanihana forest falls within the Udzungwa Mountains National Park. Two current projects aimed at reconciling conservation and development in the East Usambaras are working to increase the amount of forest, including all lowland remnants, in protected areas. The forests at Uluguru are included in catchment forest reserves (Stattersfield et al. 1998).


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

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Species factsheet: Macrosphenus kretschmeri. Downloaded from on 04/10/2023. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2023) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 04/10/2023.