Justification of Red List Category
This lowland forest specialist is listed as Vulnerable because extensive habitat loss has caused rapid population declines, which are projected to continue into the future.
Given the species's scarcity, its population is suspected to number 2,500-9,999 mature individuals, equivalent to 3,750-14,999 individuals in total, rounded here to 3,500-15,000 individuals.
Forest clearance over the past few decades has been rapid, especially in the lowlands, and as a result the extent of suitable habitat remaining is small. The species is suspected to have declined at a similar pace to habitat destruction.
Sarcophanops samarensis is endemic to the Eastern Visayas in the Philippines, where it is known from Samar, Leyte and Bohol (Collar et al. 1999). It was patchily abundant on Samar in the 19th century and may have remained moderately common there until at least the 1960s. However, there is a very limited area of forest remaining within its range. Despite this, it has been recorded on Samar several times since 2005 (R. Hutchinson in litt. 2012, 2016). The majority of post-1980 records come from Rajah Sikatuna National Park on Bohol, where observations are not infrequent. Elsewhere on Bohol it appears to be scarce, although it is unobtrusive and almost certainly under-recorded. Its current status on Leyte is not known.
It is restricted to primary lowland forest, occurring up to 750 m, and appears to tolerate only minimal habitat disturbance. Some, if not all, areas are characterised by limestone outcrops. However, this apparent preference for forest growing on limestone karst may simply reflect the fact that forest remains in such areas because they are too rocky to cultivate and there is no water for drinking or irrigation.
The chief threat is lowland deforestation. In 1989, it was estimated that on Samar and Leyte as little as 433 km2 of old-growth dipterocarp forest remained. Just 4% forest cover (c.151 km2) is thought to remain on Bohol. Much remaining lowland forest is leased to logging concessions, and mining applications pose an additional threat. Local pressures at Rajah Sikatuna National Park include limited illegal tree-cutting, agricultural expansion and soil erosion.
Conservation Actions Underway
It occurs in one protected area, Rajah Sikatuna National Park on Bohol, and recent management efforts appear to be minimising the pressures on this park.
15 cm. Small, brightly-coloured passerine. Black throat and face. Green eye surrounded by large, prominent sky-blue wattle. Large, broad, pale blue bill. Purple crown, bordered by greyish nuchal collar. Purple mantle, becoming bright chestnut on rump and tail. Black wings with prominent white and lilac bar across tertials and secondaries. Lilac underparts becoming yellowish-white on lower belly. Female as male but gleaming white breast and belly. Juvenile duller. Voice Unknown. Hints Unobtrusive, joins mixed feeding flocks. Frequents understorey and middle layers of forest.
Text account compilers
Davidson, P., Westrip, J., Benstead, P., Taylor, J., Peet, N., Bird, J.
BirdLife International (2021) Species factsheet: Sarcophanops samarensis. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 19/01/2021. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2021) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 19/01/2021.