Matinan Warbling-flycatcher Eumyias sanfordi


Justification of Red List Category
This species is poorly known. It has a relatively small distribution confined to the montane and remote forests of northern Sulawesi. The population size has not been quantified (an endeavour in part hampered by its exact distribution remaining unelucidated); however, it is considered unlikely to be below 10,000 mature individuals. Moreover, while forest loss is an ongoing threat, it is not currently occurring on a scale or at a rate where the species is believed to be in decline. For these reasons, it is assessed as Least Concern.

Population justification
The population size is unknown, in part due to its exact geographic limits remaining unknown. It is usually described as locally common (Lambaihang et al. 2003) or uncommon (Eaton et al. 2021). Given the total area of forest it is currently suspected to occupy (c.2,000 km2), it is possible that the population may number fewer than 10,000 mature individuals if the species proves to occur at very low density; however, it is considered more likely to exceed this, especially given it probably occurs in additional areas of forest further west. The subpopulation structure is wholly unknown: although it is monotypic, the population is disjunct and multiple subpopulations are suspected.

Trend justification
The principal threat, forest loss, is currently occurring at a negligible rate equivalent to <0.5% over the last 10 years (Global Forest Watch [2021], using data from Hansen et al. [2013] and methods disclosed herein) and only along the peripheries of the species' elevational limit. This rate is considered too low to cause a decline in mature individuals. In the absence of other threats, the population is therefore suspected to be stable.

Distribution and population

Cyornis sanfordi is endemic to northern Sulawesi, Indonesia, where it is known a handful localities in the mountains of the Minahasa peninsula which remain comparatively poorly explored ornithologically. 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 1,300 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 & 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. In the past ten years, clearance has affected <0.5% of this species range (Global Forest Watch [2021] using Hansen et al. [2013]). With the liberal application of logging concession permits however, this should be considered a continuing threat to the species and forest loss in its range should continue to be monitored. As a montane species, it may be affected by climate change in the future.

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) (Eaton et al. 2021).


Text account compilers
Berryman, A.

Benstead, P. & Gilroy, J.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Species factsheet: Eumyias sanfordi. Downloaded from on 06/06/2023. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2023) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 06/06/2023.