Tabar Pitta Erythropitta splendida


Justification of Red List Category
This species is listed as Vulnerable because it has a small population, which is likely to be in decline owing to habitat conversion and degradation within its range. If more accurate estimates show the total population or each of its subpopulations numbers fewer than 250 mature individuals, or research indicates that all individuals in fact belong to the same subpopulation, the species would warrant uplisting to Endangered.

Population justification
A preliminary population estimate, based on an assessment of known records, descriptions of abundance, EOO (of which only a proportion is likely to be occupied), and recorded population density estimates for congeners, is 306-3,276 individuals. It is probably best placed in the band 250-999 mature individuals until a more accurate population estimate is available.

Trend justification
The population is suspected to be in decline owing to habitat loss (Dutson 2011), though the rate of this decline is unknown.

Distribution and population

Erythropitta splendida is restricted to the Tabar Islands, to the north of New Ireland in Papua New Guinea.


It favours patches of old-growth and tall logged forest with natural thickets of undergrowth, on flat topography (G. Dutson in litt. 2016). Diet consists of insects, snails, earthworms and occasionally plant material. Nest is usually built on the ground or low in a tree or shrub (del Hoyo et al. 2003).


The species is threatened by forest loss, particularly related to mining activity, with ongoing mining activity on Tatau and a c.2,500 ha mining lease in place on Tabar (Hansen et al. 2013, St Barbara Ltd 2016). Data from the Global Forest Watch project indicate that forest loss in the period 2000-2014 on these islands has been around 5% of the total island area (Hansen et al. 2013).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Proposed
Obtain a direct population estimate for the species. Establish whether birds move between islands, or whether each island constitutes a separate population, and if the latter estimate the sizes of these subpopulations. Protect areas of suitable habitat within its range.


16-18 cm. Small pitta with scarlet nape, thin blackish hindcollar, deep blue upperparts and a blue side to the breast.


Text account compilers
Butchart, S., Ekstrom, J., Khwaja, N. & Martin, R

Dutson, G.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2021) Species factsheet: Erythropitta splendida. Downloaded from on 16/10/2021. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2021) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 16/10/2021.