Visayan Miniature Babbler Micromacronus leytensis


Justification of Red List Category
This species is very poorly known. There are few recent records, all from a small area of lowland old growth forest on Samar which continues to be cleared and degraded. For this reason it is classified as Near Threatened.

Population justification
The global population size of this species has not been quantified, although it is described as 'rare and local' (Allen 2020). Its size and canopy-dwelling habits mean it probably has a low detectability. Of eight lowland forest sites surveyed on Samar 2002-2003, M. leytensis was observed at five of them (J.-C. Gonzalez in litt. 2021); however more recent sightings in Samar Island Natural Park and the surrounding area indicate that it may be highly localised, being absent from large areas of apparently suitable habitat (R. Hutchinson in litt. 2021).

Trend justification
This species appears to be dependant on lowland old growth forest in an area of the Philippines that is increasingly encroached upon by land clearance for agriculture and timber extraction. Given ongoing and potentially accelerating rates of lowland forest loss, degradation and fragmentation in its range, that is projected to decline at a rate equivalent to c.18% over the next decade (Global Forest Watch [2021] using data from Hansen et al. [2013] and methods disclosed therein), M. leytensis is suspected to undergo a decline of 20-25% between 2016-2025 and over the next 10 years.

Distribution and population

Micromacronus leytensis is endemic to the Philippines, where it occurs only on Samar, Biliran and Leyte in the Eastern Visayas (Collar & Robson 2007). All recent records have been from Samar below 500 m (R. Hutchinson in litt. 2021). It was previously considered conspecific with the Mindanao Miniature-babbler M. sordidus.


All recent records are from scattered areas of lowland old growth forest below 500 m, where it feeds in small, active, noise groups (often associating with other species) in the forest canopy. Recent sightings (post 2010) have all been in areas of lowland forest with undulating terrain; dedicated searches in areas of equally suitable, if not better, habitat within Samar Island Natural Park have failed to yield sightings despite the presence of mixed-species flocks. The species is therefore suspected to be extremely localised (R. Hutchinson in litt. 2021).


The species is confined to lowland old growth forest that continues to be threatened with ongoing and potentially accelerating rates of forest loss (Global Forest Watch [2021] using data from Hansen et al. [2013] and methods disclosed therein). All known sites are in well-forested areas, and searches of smaller fragments have failed to find the species (R. Hutchinson in litt. 2021).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
Protected in Samar Island Natural Park, the largest area of remnant old-growth forest in the Philippines.

Conservation Actions Proposed
Determine the elevational limits of the species and identify if it occurs in montane forests that are more secure. Ascertain whether the species still occurs in areas of remnant forest on Leyte or Biliran. Effectively protect forest at key sites - clearance of forest even inside Samar Island Natural Park is ongoing.


Identification. Small in size with elongated, erectile feathers on back and sides. Sexes similar. Bill dark horn, lower mandible lighter. Eyes red; legs greenish-grey; toes straw yellow. Similar species. May be confused with Lovely Sunbird which has a longer, slightly decurved bill and lacks long erectile feathers. At higher altitudes overlaps with Mountain Leaf Warbler which is larger and lacks erectile feathers. Voice. Not recorded.


Text account compilers
Berryman, A.

Allen, D., Gonzales, J.C., Hutchinson, R., Mahood, S., Taylor, J. & Westrip, J.R.S.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2022) Species factsheet: Micromacronus leytensis. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 06/12/2022. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2022) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 06/12/2022.