VU
White-bellied Sholakili Sholicola albiventris



Justification

Justification of Red List Category
This species has a small and severely fragmented range on isolated mountain tops, which is declining rapidly as a result of conversion of forest habitats to plantations, agriculture and settlements. With the use of a Minimum Convex Polygon to calculate the Extent of Occurrence, the species now qualifies as Vulnerable.

Population justification
The global population size has not been quantified. Evidence suggests that it is locally common in the Palni Hills, and it is the most common understorey bird in Grasshills National Park (V. V. Robin in litt. 2012), but it may be much scarcer in other apparently suitable areas.

Trend justification
Although no quantitative data is available, suitable forest in the Western Ghats is being cleared (del Hoyo et al. 2007); hence the species is suspected to be declining.

Distribution and population

Myiomela albiventris is found in southern Kerala and western Tamila Nadu, southern India, with three strongholds located in the Palni and Annamalai Hills, Pandalam Hills and Ashambu (Agasthyamalai) Hills (del Hoyo et al. 2005, J. Praveen in litt. 2010, V. V. Robin in litt. 2010, 2012). Surveys suggest that it is locally common at Kodaikanal in the Palni Hills, perhaps being the third most common passerine. A five-year mark-recapture study showed it to be the most common understorey bird in Grasshills National Park (V. V. Robin in litt. 2012), but it may be much scarcer in other suitable areas (del Hoyo et al. 2005). Tracewski et al. (2016) estimated the maximum Area of Occupancy (calculated as the remaining tree area within the species’s range) to be c.800 km2.

Ecology

This species is found between 1,000 and 2,200 m in streamside vegetation and wet areas of undergrowth within sholas (forest patches) and densely wooded ravines. It is also found in much lower numbers in wattle (Eucalyptus) and old pine plantations contiguous with sholas, and has been recorded in gardens. Its breeding season stretches from March until July, but most activity occurs in April and May. There is no information on its diet, but it presumably feeds on small insects and other invertebrates. It is a sedentary species, though some altitudinal movement is suspected (del Hoyo et al. 2005).

Threats

As reported for other species in the area, an increasing human population has led to growing illegal encroachment into Western Ghats forests. Livestock grazing, together with the harvesting of fuelwood and huge quantities of forest products such as bamboo and canes, are likely to have a negative influence on this species. Furthermore, hydroelectric power development and road-building are causing reductions in forest cover in some areas. Between 1961 and 1988, 47% of evergreen/semi-evergreen forest was lost in the Kerala portion of the Western Ghats as a result of clearance for plantations, cash-crops (e.g. tea), reservoirs and human settlements (V. V. Robin in litt. 2010). The clearance and degradation of areas of suitable habitat for firewood for local tea factories is a newly identified threat amongst tea plantations west of Munnar, Kerala, and is likely to be a serious threat in areas with many tea factories (J. Taylor in litt. 2011). Furthermore, having a montane distribution that is close to the maximum altitude within its range, this species is potentially susceptible to climate change (J. Praveen in litt. 2010).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
No targeted actions are known, but the species occurs in numerous protected areas throughout its range, including Indira Gandhi, Kurinjimala, Neyyar, Peppara, Meghamalai and Kanyakumari Wildlife Sanctuaries; Eravikulam, Anamudi Shola, Pampadum Shola and Mathikettan Shola National Parks, and Periyar and Kalakkad-Mundanthurai Tiger Reserves (J. Praveen in litt. 2012).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Conduct ecological studies to clarify the habitat requirements of this species, as well as its response to disturbance and fragmentation. Regularly monitor populations at selected sites and develop a database of information for formulating conservation management strategies for different areas. Protect areas of suitable habitat.

Identification

14 cm. Small, chat-like bird with white supercilium, uniform, dark slaty-blue head, breast and upperside. Whitish centre of abdomen with dark slaty-blue flanks and white undertail-coverts. Similar spp. Nilgiri Blue Robin M. major has rufous flanks and undertail coverts, and dull bluish brow. Voice Song a loud, sustained, sprightly, thrust-like series of short phrases, each consisting of rich slurred whistles and dry buzzy notes, rising and falling several times. Calls reportedly include loud chattering and high whistle.

Acknowledgements

Text account compilers
Calvert, R., Westrip, J., Khwaja, N., Derhé, M.

Contributors
Taylor, J., Robin, V., Praveen, J.


Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2020) Species factsheet: Sholicola albiventris. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 30/09/2020. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2020) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 30/09/2020.