Manus Fantail Rhipidura semirubra


Justification of Red List Category
This species is classified as Vulnerable on the basis of a very small occupied range, although this assumes that it does not occur across all of one island (Rambutyo). If the historical decline proves to be ongoing or if the cause of this species's disappearance from another island (Manus) is thought to threaten populations on the other islands, then it may be uplisted to a higher category of threat.

Population justification
The population size is preliminarily estimated to fall into the band 2,500-9,999 individuals. This equates to 1,667-6,666 mature individuals, rounded here to 1,500-7,000 mature individuals.

Trend justification
Although it disappeared from Manus for unknown reasons during the last century, this species is not thought to be declining.

Distribution and population

Rhipidura semirubra is endemic to the Admiralty Islands of Papua New Guinea. It was historically common on Manus where it was noted to be common everywhere in true forest and secondary bush but there are no records from Manus since 1934 (Dutson and Newman 1991). In the last few years it has only been seen on a handful of small islands in the archipelago: Rambutyo, Tong, , San Miguel, Pak, Anobat (in the San Miguel Islands) and Sivisa (in the Fedarb Islands) (Silva 1975, Tolhurst 1993, D. Gibbs in litt. 1994, K. M. Kisokau in litt. 1994, Dutson 2011). It is likely to occur on other small islands which have not been visited by ornithologists. On Tong at least, it is common (e.g. 40 seen in six hours in 1997 [G. Dutson pers. obs. 1997]).


Historic records from Manus and recent records from Tong indicate that it is a forest species tolerant of extreme habitat degradation, including scrub and overgrown coconut plantations (Silva 1975, Dutson and Newman 1991, D. Gibbs in litt. 1994, Dutson 2011). In all other respects, it is a typical member of the Rufous Fantail R. rufifrons group (G. Dutson pers. obs. 1997).


The reason for this species's disappearance from Manus is unknown. It is likely to be related to an introduced species or disease. This uncertainty is worrying since the same threat could potentially impact the remaining population. The brown tree snake Boiga irregularis, which has exterminated similar species on Guam, is apparently native to Manus and should not be a threat (Dutson and Newman 1991, R. E. Beck in litt. 1992). Islanders suggest that its absence from Manus is a result of high numbers of White-naped Friarbird Philemon albitorques (this species occurs on Manus only), in the increased area of villages and gardens (D. Gibbs in litt. 1994). However, it seems unlikely that these two species did not coexist historically given that R. semirubra was so common and widespread. The populations on the smallest islands such as Anobat and Sivisa may be threatened by complete clearance of natural vegetation.

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
None is known.

Conservation Actions Proposed
Survey other small islands in the Admiralties. Interview local villagers about population trends on each island. Confirm status on Lou island. Interview local villagers across Manus about this species's present or historic occurrence. Determine habitat requirements. Ascertain area of forest and rates of clearance on all occupied islands. Assess distribution, population level and trends on Rambutyo. Assess population size on Tong. Monitor numbers on Tong. Investigate possible causes of decline through comparing distribution with that of various introduced and predatory species. Publicise this species's range and status through public awareness discussions. Investigate the cause of its disappearance from Manus.


15 cm. Rufous, black-and-white fantail. Red-rufous upperparts with darker wings and white-tipped dark tail. Black mask and breast-band border white throat. Lower breast has black spots. Otherwise plain buff underparts. Similar spp. The only other fantail in range is Northern Fantail R. rufiventris, which is grey-brown and white. Voice Thin, scratchy song. Hints Easily seen by chartering a boat to Tong.


Text account compilers
Derhé, M., Dutson, G., Mahood, S., O'Brien, A., Stattersfield, A.

Gregory, P., Mack, A., Dutson, G., Kisokau, K., Beck, R., Gibbs, D.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2017) Species factsheet: Rhipidura semirubra. Downloaded from on 22/10/2017. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2017) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 22/10/2017.