North Philippine Dwarf-kingfisher Ceyx melanurus


Justification of Red List Category
This tiny, newly-split forest kingfisher is undergoing a continuing rapid population decline owing to extensive lowland deforestation throughout its range, and it thus qualifies as Vulnerable.

Population justification
The population size is preliminarily estimated to fall into the band 10,000-19,999 mature individuals. This equates to 15,000-29,999 individuals in total, rounded here to 15,000-30,000 individuals.

Trend justification
Forest clearance for wood-pulp and oil-palm plantations continues within the Philippines and it is suspected to be causing a rapid population decline in this species.

Distribution and population

Ceyx melanurus is endemic to the Philippines, where the nominate melanurus is known from the islands of Luzon, Polillo, Alabat, Catanduanes and possibly Tablas, and C. m. samarensis occurs on Samar and Leyte (del Hoyo et al. 2001). Most recent records come from Luzon and also Polillo, Catanduanes and Leyte. It appears to be generally scarce or rare, but it is secretive and difficult to observe and consequently may be under-recorded.


It is a lowland specialist, inhabiting forest understorey and secondary growth from sea-level to 750 m. Although it frequents watercourses, mainly small streams, probably for foraging, any association with them appears to be no more incidental than obligate. It appears to prefer regions of high rainfall (D. Allen in litt. 2012).


Extensive lowland deforestation on all islands in its range is the main threat. Forest cover in the Sierra Madre mountains on Luzon has declined by 83% since the 1930s. Most remaining lowland forest that is not afforded protection is leased to logging concessions and mining applications. Specific threats at key sites with recent records include illegal logging at Angat Dam (Luzon). Typhoons on Catanduanes, in 1987 and 1996, destroyed large areas of forest and augmented flooding and silting of watercourses.

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
There are recent records from several areas offering varying degrees of protection, including the Northern Sierra Madre Natural Park and Bicol and Quezon National Parks (all on Luzon), and Polillo Watershed Forest Reserve. It is also recorded regularly in Pasonanca Natural Park, Alabat Watershed Forest Reserve and Aurora Memorial National Park (per D. Allen in litt. 2012).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Identify remaining significant lowland forest tracts throughout its range. Comprehensively survey these sites, particularly those with pre-1980 records, to clarify its current distribution and status and provide data for further designation of key lowland sites as protected areas. Support the designation of central Catanduanes as a watershed reserve. Promote the effective protection of remaining lowland forest in the Northern Sierra Madre Mountains Natural Park.


12 cm. Tiny, rufous, forest kingfisher. Rufous plumage, washed lilac on ear-coverts, crown, breast and rump. White throat and belly, off-white lores, blue-and-white neck blaze, blackish wings glossed blue and black. Black V mark on back. Bright red bill and legs. Subspecies C. m. platenae larger, more lilac, less black in wings. Subspecies C. m. samarensis larger, darker and washed more with lilac. Voice Thin, high-pitched squeak.


Text account compilers
Benstead, P., Bird, J., Davidson, P., Lowen, J., Peet, N., Taylor, J. & Symes, A.

Allen, D.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Species factsheet: Ceyx melanurus. 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.