VU
Red-tailed Newtonia Newtonia fanovanae



Justification

Justification of Red List category
This species is suspected to have a small population which is experiencing a continuing decline due to the ongoing loss of intact, low-altitude rainforest. It is therefore classified as Vulnerable.

Population justification
The population is suspected to be in the range 2,500-9,999 mature individuals (F. Hawkins in litt. 2003). This equates to 3,750-14,999 individuals, rounded here to 3,500-15,000 individuals.

Trend justification
The population is suspected to be declining in line with the clearance and degradation of lowland rainforest within the species's range. Tree cover loss within the range is currently estimated at 30-49% across ten years (Global Forest Watch 2021, using Hansen et al. [2013] data and methods disclosed therein). Assuming that population declines are roughly equivalent to the rate of forest loss for this highly forest dependent species, it may be declining at <50% over ten years.
Modelling the possible effects of climate change have shown that this species' ecological niche may decline by 52% due to climate change over the 50 year period from 2000 to 2050 (Andriamasimanana and Cameron 2013). Assuming a linear decrease, this would equate to a c.10% decline in its ecological niche over the next ten years.

Distribution and population

This species remained known only from the type-specimen, collected in December 1931 near Fanovana, eastern-central Madagascar, until its almost simultaneous rediscovery in Andohahela National Park in October 1989 and Ambatovaky Special Reserve in February 1990. It is now known from low-altitude forests between Marojejy and Andohahela, in seven eastern Malagasy rainforest Important Bird Areas (ZICOMA 1999), and was recorded in Tsitongambarika Forest, in the extreme south-east, in 2005 (M. Rabenandrasana in litt. 2007). In 2020, two individuals were observed in primary montane forest in northern Madagascar at 1,640 m, which is significantly higher than previous known localities (Mittermeier et al. 2020). It seems to be scarce and patchily distributed, only present in large, unbroken tracts of forest. Its density was estimated to be between 38 and 219 singing birds per km2, in low-altitude forest in Zahamena National Park, in 1995 (A. F. A. Hawkins in litt. 1995).

Ecology

The species is restricted to areas of tall trees in lowland, humid evergreen forest where it appears to inhabit the middle and upper strata (Morris and Hawkins 1998). It was previously thought to be rare or absent above 800 m and at several sites appeared to be absent above 500 m (Morris and Hawkins 1998). However, in 2020, two individuals were observed in primary montane forest at 1,640 m, which is significantly higher than previous known localities (Mittermeier et al. 2020). It is usually seen in mixed-species flocks (Morris and Hawkins 1998), and its breeding ecology is unknown.

Threats

The principal threat throughout its range is from slash-and-burn cultivation by subsistence farmers, which results in progressively more degraded regrowth and leads eventually to bracken-covered areas or grassland (Du Puy and Moat 1996). Much of the eastern coastal plain has either already been cleared or is covered by highly degraded forest (Jenkins 1987), while remaining habitat is under pressure from the increasing human population (Jenkins 1987), and commercial logging is an additional threat in some areas (A. F. A. Hawkins in litt. 1995). If present trends continue, the remaining forest, especially at the lower altitudes preferred by this species, will disappear within decades (Du Puy and Moat 1996), and climate change may cause added pressure because modelling of the possible effects of climate change have shown that this species' ecological niche may decline by 52% due to climate change alone over the 50 year period from 2000 to 2050 (Andriamasimanana and Cameron 2013).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
This species is known from the following protected areas: Ambatovaky Special Reserve, Andohahela National Park, Anjanaharibe-South Special Reserve, Ankeniheny Classified Forest, Haute Rantabe Classified Forest, Marojejy National Park and Zahamena National Park (ZICOMA 1999), and Tsitongambarika eastern rain forest (M. Rabenandrasana in litt. 2007).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Locate other populations. Establish its habitat requirements and other factors limiting its distribution/population, in order to better predict its likely distribution and population size. Conduct regular surveys to monitor population trends. Monitor rates of forest clearance and degradation within the species' range. Improve protection of lowland forest on the east coast through community conservation and management of protected areas.

Identification

12 cm. Small, forest-canopy insectivore. Mid-brown on back, greyer on crown and cheeks, with darker flight feathers (pale orange panel in secondaries). Tail is fairly bright rufous at base, and underparts whitish with pale orange wash on sides of breast. Bill is dark on upper mandible and pale grey on lower. Similar spp. Very similar to female Red-tailed Vanga Calicalicus madagascariensis, from which distinguished by slim bi-coloured bill, pale rufous panel in wings, and lack of pale eye-ring. Easily distinguished from other newtonias Newtonia by red tail and contrasting grey head. Voice The song, a series of descending pitchi-pitchi-pitchi, then swee-swee-swee notes, is characteristic.

Acknowledgements

Text account compilers
Rotton, H.

Contributors
Benstead, P., Ekstrom, J., Evans, M., Hawkins, F., Rabenandrasana, M., Shutes, S., Starkey, M., Symes, A., Taylor, J. & Westrip, J.R.S.


Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2024) Species factsheet: Newtonia fanovanae. Downloaded from https://datazone.birdlife.org/species/factsheet/red-tailed-newtonia-newtonia-fanovanae on 22/02/2024.
Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2024) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from https://datazone.birdlife.org on 22/02/2024.