Rusty-bellied Shortwing Brachypteryx hyperythra


Justification of Red List Category
Recent surveys have found this species to be commoner and more widespread than was previously thought. Nevertheless, it is believed to have a moderately small population within its small range, and its numbers are suspected to be declining as a consequence of habitat loss. However, the range is not yet severely fragmented or restricted to few locations. For these reasons, the species is classified as Near Threatened.

Population justification
The population is estimated to number 10,000-19,999 individuals based on an assessment of known records, descriptions of abundance and range size. This is consistent with recorded population density estimates for congeners or close relatives with a similar body size, and the fact that only a proportion of the estimated Extent of Occurrence is likely to be occupied. This estimate is equivalent to 6,667-13,333 mature individuals, rounded here to 6,000-15,000 mature individuals.

Trend justification
The species is suspected to be declining at a slow or moderate rate, owing to deforestation within its known and suspected range.

Distribution and population

Brachypteryx hyperythra is endemic to the eastern Himalayas, where it is currently known from West Bengal, Sikkim, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh (and perhaps Nagaland), India, north Myanmar, and north-west Yunnan, China. Data suggest it is scarce and local, but this may in part be due to its remote, inaccessible range, which is also likely to include Bhutan, and possibly Nepal and south-east Tibet. There are a number of recent records from northern Myanmar which suggest that the species may be commoner and more widespread than previously thought (J. Eames in litt. 2006, T. Htin Hla in litt. 2006, S. Myers in litt. 2006).


In May and June (the presumed breeding season) it has been found in dense undergrowth and Arundinaria (ringal) bamboo in broad-leaved evergreen forest from 1,800-3,000 m. During winter, it frequents dense reeds, thick secondary scrub, forest undergrowth and well-vegetated gulleys, from foothills at 450 m to at least 2,950 m. It has recently been recorded at much lower elevations down to c.150 m, inhabiting tall elephant type grass (T. Htin Hla in litt. 2006, S. Myers in litt. 2006). It is probably resident, making seasonal altitudinal movements, although it possibly migrates short distances.


Without a more complete knowledge of its habitat preferences and breeding and wintering ranges, it is difficult to identify particular threats. However, forest loss and degradation owing to logging, smaller-scale cutting for fuelwood, clearance for tea plantations, shifting agriculture and livestock-grazing of forest understorey are all problems within its known range, especially at lower altitudes.

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
It occurs in Namdapha National Park and the Mehao, Dibang and Kamleng wildlife sanctuaries in north-east India, and in Hponkanrazi and Hukaung Valley wildlife sanctuaries in northern Myanmar.

Conservation Actions Proposed
Study the ecology and threats that may face this species. Identify key areas and important populations, and recommend their integration into protected areas if necessary. Support initiatives seeking to reduce levels of forest destruction and degradation.


13 cm. Small, chat-like bird with rufous-orange throat and underparts. Male dark blue above with thin white eyebrow. Female dark olive-brown above and duller below. Both sexes show whitish belly-centre. Similar spp. Female Lesser Shortwing B. leucophrys is paler above and lacks pale rufous-orange on underparts. Voice Song is high-speed, slurred warble which ends abruptly and is introduced by spaced tu-tiu or wi-tu.


Text account compilers
Davidson, P., Khwaja, N., Bird, J., Benstead, P., Peet, N., Tobias, J., Westrip, J.

Myers, S., Htin Hla, T., Eames, J.C.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Species factsheet: Brachypteryx hyperythra. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 01/04/2023. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2023) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 01/04/2023.