Matinan Flycatcher Cyornis sanfordi


Justification of Red List Category
This species has a very small range, within which it is known from fewer than five locations, and is declining as a result of rapid habitat loss and degradation. It thus qualifies as Endangered.

Population justification
The population size is preliminarily estimated to fall into the band 10,000-19,999 individuals. This equates to 6,667-13,333 mature individuals, rounded here to 6,000-15,000 mature individuals.

Trend justification
A moderate and on-going population decline is suspected to be taking place, owing to rapid habitat loss within the lower parts of the altitudinal range of this species.

Distribution and population

Cyornis sanfordi is endemic to northern Sulawesi, Indonesia, where it is known from four localities in the mountains of the Minahasa peninsula. It is thinly distributed, but may be more numerous in the western part of its range, considering the relatively large number (nine) originally collected. Observations in 2002 at a new site for the species (Gunung Banga) suggested that it was moderately common there (Lambaihang et al. 2003).


It is a presumed resident (perhaps making very local altitudinal movements) in primary lower and upper montane rain forest and moss forest above 1,400 m. It is apparently identical in habits, ecology, vertical distribution, behaviour and vocalisations to Blue-fronted Flycatcher C. hoevelli, which is usually unobtrusive but sometimes conspicuous, frequenting the lower storey or forest canopy of medium-sized and tall trees, and occasionally joining mixed-species flocks. It also occurs in disturbed forest (Riley and Mole 2001).


The main threat stems from habitat loss along the peripheries of the mountain range on the Minahasa peninsula, as a result of clearance for transmigration settlements and shifting agriculture. However, this is only a localised threat at the lower limit of its altitudinal range, with most forest at higher elevations remaining largely untouched. Logging concessions at lower altitudes also pose a threat. In Indonesia new regional autonomy laws were enacted in 2000, which empowered regional governments to determine the licensing of forest concessions and exploitation of natural resources. Unfortunately there has been a significant increase in the rate of logging in protected areas since decentralisation, especially in Sulawesi.

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
The eastern part of its known distribution is largely enclosed in Bogani Nani Wartabone National Park, covering 280 km2 between 100 m and 1,970 m.

Conservation Actions Proposed
Conduct surveys to establish its true range, distribution and population status, particularly in the unexplored mountains immediately to the west of its current known distribution. Identify areas supporting significant populations and propose their establishment as protected areas. Initiate awareness programmes to reduce habitat loss resulting from shifting cultivation.


14.5 cm. Small, drab, unobtrusive, forest flycatcher. Grey-brown above, greyer on crown, with dark lores and more rufous-olive on rump and tail. Brownish-grey underparts with pale vent. Similar spp. Yellow-vented Whistler Pachycephala sulfuriventer is thicker set with larger head and bill, and yellow vent. Female Maroon-backed Whistler Coracornis raveni is also thicker set, with darker brown on face and breast. Voice A hectic, non-stop cyclical warble that consists of the same 8-9 notes (the whole rising and falling) (Benstead et al. in prep).


Text account compilers
Benstead, P., Derhé, M. & Gilroy, J.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2021) Species factsheet: Cyornis sanfordi. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 08/12/2021. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2021) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 08/12/2021.