Red-tailed Newtonia Newtonia fanovanae


Justification of Red List Category
This species is assumed to have a small population which is suspected to be declining, given that its habitat of intact, low-altitude rainforest is declining rapidly in extent and becoming severely fragmented. It is therefore classed as Vulnerable.

Population justification
The population is placed in the range 2,500-9,999 mature individuals based on recent data (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. The likely rate of decline has not been fully estimated, but modelling the possible effects of climate change have shown that this species's 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.27% decline in its ecological niche over its next 3 generations, placed here in the range of 20-29% (c.18% in next 2 generations; c.9% in next generation).

Distribution and population

Newtonia fanovanae 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). It thus 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).


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 appears to be rare or absent above 800 m and at several sites appears to be absent above 500 m - if this altitudinal preference holds throughout its range, it is the only species restricted to true lowland forest in Madagascar (Morris and Hawkins 1998). It is usually seen in mixed-species flocks (Morris and Hawkins 1998), and its breeding ecology is unknown.


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), 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's 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's range. Improve protection of lowland forest on the east coast through community conservation and management of protected areas.


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.


Text account compilers
Benstead, P., Ekstrom, J., Evans, M., Shutes, S., Starkey, M., Symes, A., Taylor, J. & Westrip, J.

Hawkins, F. & Rabenandrasana, M.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2019) Species factsheet: Newtonia fanovanae. Downloaded from on 21/04/2019. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2019) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 21/04/2019.