Malay Banded Pitta Hydrornis irena


Justification of Red List Category
This recently split species is listed as Near Threatened on the basis that the continued destruction of its habitats and capture for the illegal bird trade are suspected to be driving a moderately rapid decline in its population. Further research is required into the impact of these threats, the results of which could influence its Red List status.

Population justification
The population size has not been quantified and further research is required.

Trend justification
The species's population is suspected to be undergoing a moderately rapid decline owing primarily to on-going deforestation and hunting for trade.

Distribution and population

Pitta irena is found in Peninsular Thailand and Malaysia, and Sumatra, Indonesia (Lambert and Woodcock 1996, Rheindt and Eaton 2010). It is described as locally common, although now rare in Thailand and decidedly local in Sumatra (Lambert and Woodcock 1996).


The species inhabits lowland floodplain forest, but is also found at higher elevations, perhaps up to c.1,500 m (Lambert and Woodcock 1996, del Hoyo et al. 2003, Rheindt and Eaton 2010). Indeed, it appears to rely to a large extent on lowland evergreen forest and swamp forest (Yong Ding Li in litt. 2011). It favours the interior of primary forest, but is also found in secondary forest (Lambert and Woodcock 1996), although observations suggest that it does not persist well in altered habitats (Yong Ding Li in litt. 2011). Its diet probably comprises invertebrates and berries, which it forages for on the ground and in understorey vegetation. Breeding probably takes place throughout the year (Lambert and Woodcock 1996).


Despite some apparent tolerance of habitat alteration, it is threatened by forest loss and degradation, presumably driven by timber extraction and agricultural expansion, as well as capture for the illegal bird trade either through trapping or nest-raiding (Lambert and Woodcock 1996). It is now considered rare in Thailand, where the majority lowland forest has been logged (del Hoyo et al. 2003). A similar situation exists in Malaysia, where it has virtually disappeared from Panti Forest Reserve since 1994 (del Hoyo et al. 2003, Yong Ding Li in litt. 2011).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
CITES Appendix II. The species occurs in a number of protected areas across its large range, including Khao Nor Chuchi Wildlife Sanctuary (Thailand), Taman Negara National Park (Malaysia) and Way Kambas National Park (Sumatra) (del Hoyo et al. 2003). No other targeted conservation actions are known for this species.

Conservation Actions Proposed
Carry out surveys to obtain a population estimate and monitor population trends. Monitor trends in the extent and condition of habitat. Reduce trapping pressure through education and awareness campaigns. Provide alternative livelihoods to bird-trappers. Increase the area of suitable primary forest that receives active protection.


20-23 cm. Attractive and strikingly coloured Pitta species; male has black crown and broad mask, with broad bright yellow supercilium, becoming flame orange on the nape (del Hoyo et al. 2003). The underparts are deep blue, save for orange barring on the breast sides. Upperparts plain chestnut-brown; rump and tail deep blue. The wings are blackish-brown with a white spot in the primaries and some white in the outer secondaries. The median and greater coverts are broadly tipped white. The chin and throat are also white. Female similar except for white underparts with fine black barring (del Hoyo et al. 2003). Juveniles and immatures have bold, pure white spotting on the upperwing coverts (Lambert and Woodcock 1996). Similar spp Unlikely to be confused with any other species in range. Voice In Malaysia a falling pouw, and a short, explosive whirring kirr or whirr; in Sumatra, a softer hwow (Lambert and Woodcock 1996, del Hoyo et al. 2003).


Text account compilers
Taylor, J.

Yong, D.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2019) Species factsheet: Hydrornis irena. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 24/07/2019. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2019) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 24/07/2019.