Justification of Red List Category
This enigmatic ground-dweller is classified as Vulnerable because it is precautionarily judged to have a small population, which is likely to be declining as a result of on-going habitat loss and degradation.
The population is estimated to number 2,500-9,999 mature 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 3,750-14,999 individuals, rounded here to 3,500-15,000 individuals.
Rates of forest loss within the altitudinal range of this species have been less severe than in the Sumatran lowlands but agricultural encroachment and illegal logging continue to destroy suitable habitat. Thus, a moderate and on-going population decline is suspected.
Pitta schneideri is endemic to the island of Sumatra, Indonesia, where its known range spans a large part of the Barisan range (from Gunung Sibayak, North Sumatra, to Gunung Dempu, South Sumatra) (BirdLife International 2001). Historically it was very common in the Gunung Kerinci area, but a period of over 70 years followed before it was rediscovered on the mountain in 1988 (Hurrel 1989). Camera trapping at Bukit Barasan Selatan National Park has recorded the species as often as Banded Pitta Pitta guajana, which is not considered to be a rare species. However, camera trapping at Kerinci Seblat National Park (KSNP) in west-central Sumatra failed to record the species (Dinata et al. 2008). True distribution and abundance remain poorly understood owing primarily to a lack of survey effort in many areas of potentially suitable forest, but improved knowledge of its call may lead to further sites being discovered in the future.
It inhabits the floor and undergrowth of primary and selectively logged, tropical lower and upper montane rainforest, from 900 m to 2,400 m. It is generally unobtrusive, being encountered singly or in pairs (unless with accompanying young) in tangled undergrowth or along forest trails. It is assumed to be resident, although it may perhaps make local altitudinal movements.
The main pressure is imposed by habitat destruction. At least a third of montane rainforest on Sumatra has already been lost as a result of agricultural encroachment and logging. This is affecting large areas of lower montane rainforest, even within protected areas. Kerinci-Seblat National Park, for example, was cited in 1984 as one of the 10 most threatened protected areas in the Indo-Malayan Realm, owing to illegal encroachment of farming. At Gunung Singgalang, forest had been cleared up to 1,800-1,900 m as early as 1917, and indeed all recent records are from areas of broken forest with a high pressure from agriculture on their peripheries. In addition, this species may be susceptible to hunting with air-rifles and snares set for mammals and larger ground-foraging birds.
Conservation Actions Underway
It has been nominally protected under Indonesian law since 1931. There are recent records from Kerinci-Seblat National Park and the Bukit Dingin/Gunung Dempu Protection Forest. There are over 20 protected areas in the Barisan Mountains, but most of these receive no management.
22 cm. Medium-large, elusive, forest-dwelling pitta. Male has bright blue mantle, wing-coverts, rump and tail. Blackish-brown wings. Rest of plumage rusty-brown, paler on throat and warmest on crown and nape. Black line through eye to rear of ear-coverts. Variable black breast-band and collar. Female lacks black collar and has brown mantle. Similar spp. Giant Pitta P. caerulea is larger with more massive bill, colder brown on head and black on crown. Voice Low, rather soft, drawn out, double whistle, rising on the first note and falling on the second. Hints Walk along forest trails at dawn.
Text account compilers
Benstead, P., Bird, J., Davidson, P., Taylor, J., Tobias, J., Allinson, T
Brickle, N., Iqbal, M.
BirdLife International (2019) Species factsheet: Hydrornis schneideri. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 19/10/2019. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2019) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 19/10/2019.