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Bird with smallest range (1 Viewer)

DMW

Well-known member
So what species has the smallest known range? Two categories, island endemics and continental species. I think Bugun Liocichla must be a good candidate for a continental bird, and I'll open the biddling for insular forms with Razo Lark.
 

Andrew Whitehouse

Professor of Listening
Staff member
Supporter
Scotland
I remember seeing Mauritius Fody about 20 years ago and reckoning I could see both the bird and more-or-less its entire global range at the same time. It might be a slightly bigger area than Razo Lark but probably not by much (though reintroduction programmes may have changed this).

It may be tricky to be precise about this. I suppose terrestrial island birds have a smaller range than seabirds for example. There are potentially some seabirds that have a very small breeding range but obviously range much more widely to feed.
 

jurek

Well-known member
Nihoa Finch and Millerbird are endemic to a 0.69km2 island, smaller than Raso Lark 5.76km2

Both Zino and Bugio petrels have breeding ranges visible from one spot (actually, on a clear day, both are visible from one spot). However part of the population is dispersed on sea at any one time.

Bugun Liocichla may be more widespread, because it lives on extremely steep slopes in a roadless region, most of which was never explored by ornithologists. This is also the reason why it remained unknown for so long.

This question could be quite easily answered if Birdlife website could be searched as a database by all possible values (area of occupancy).
 

DMW

Well-known member
Nihoa Finch and Millerbird are endemic to a 0.69km2 island, smaller than Raso Lark 5.76km2

Both Zino and Bugio petrels have breeding ranges visible from one spot (actually, on a clear day, both are visible from one spot). However part of the population is dispersed on sea at any one time.

Bugun Liocichla may be more widespread, because it lives on extremely steep slopes in a roadless region, most of which was never explored by ornithologists. This is also the reason why it remained unknown for so long.

This question could be quite easily answered if Birdlife website could be searched as a database by all possible values (area of occupancy).
The interesting thing about Bugun Liocichla is that the area immediately surrounding its known range has been extremely well-covered by competent birders every year for more than a decade, and it is still only known from a few territories in a tiny area.
 

jurek

Well-known member
This is explainable. Bugun Liocichla inhabits steep mid-mountain slopes with bushes or bushy understory of loose forest. This area of Arunuchal Pradesh is extremely steep, all towering mountains with 60-80o steep slopes and really no flat area at all. Only in few places one can build a dirt road or even a footpath. These few roads are open both for ornithologists and local people, whose cattle eats the bushes. So the ornithologists have only access to degraded habitat. There should be, however, pockets of bushes in all the inacessible places, which could be surveyed probably only by satelite monitoring or drones, or tedious alpine-type expeditions.
 

Andy Adcock

Well-known member
England
So what species has the smallest known range? Two categories, island endemics and continental species. I think Bugun Liocichla must be a good candidate for a continental bird, and I'll open the biddling for insular forms with Razo Lark.
Bare-headed Bulbul, Sooty Babbler, Cambodian Tailorbird, Cambodian Laughingthrush?

Island birds, Bali Mynah.
 

James Eaton

Trent Valley Crew
This is explainable. Bugun Liocichla inhabits steep mid-mountain slopes with bushes or bushy understory of loose forest. This area of Arunuchal Pradesh is extremely steep, all towering mountains with 60-80o steep slopes and really no flat area at all. Only in few places one can build a dirt road or even a footpath. These few roads are open both for ornithologists and local people, whose cattle eats the bushes. So the ornithologists have only access to degraded habitat. There should be, however, pockets of bushes in all the inacessible places, which could be surveyed probably only by satelite monitoring or drones, or tedious alpine-type expeditions.
Duncan is right, the immediate vicinity with similar habitat (similar species present) has been extremely well covered, year-after-year by competent field birders. I've birded several spots in western Arunachal Pradesh with seemingly similar habitat and correct elevation but without a sign, despite a concerted effort to search for it using playback, and paying attention to Rusty-fronted Barwing flocks. A few years back there was a fairly large, widespread survey involving many birders/researchers with no sightings.
Bugun Liocichla is only reliably found in heavily degraded habitat. Even the other side of Eaglenest at the same elevation (Bumphu camp), there has only been a handful of random sightings. It's a real mystery, that bird. Though you are right, reasonable tracts of habitat still remain unexplored - but not as vast as one might realise.
Recently birders have also spent time in the adjacent area of Bhutan with no sign too.

Only Asian bird I can think of with a genuinely tiny range, similar to Raso Lark etc, not due to habitat loss or other human induced pressures would be Friendly Grasshopper Warbler.

James
 

Andy Adcock

Well-known member
England
Only Asian bird I can think of with a genuinely tiny range, similar to Raso Lark etc, not due to habitat loss or other human induced pressures would be Friendly Grasshopper Warbler.

James
I presume this refers to the bird on Mt Kinabalu, if so, why the name change?

Is the Island Thrush from Kinabalu, found anywhere else on Borneo, I presume it is?
 

DMW

Well-known member
Of course, "known range" is open to interpretation. I was mostly thinking about birds that have only ever been known from a very small area rather than birds that have been reduced to one in recent times thanks to human activity.
Having said that, it's still interesting to talk about birds like Mad Pochard, which is now confined to what is barely larger than a pond.
The first time I visited Sichuan, Grey-hooded Parrotbill was known only from the tiny summit Plateau of Emei Shan, a few hundred square metres, but has since been found at several additional localities.
 

Welsh Peregrine

Well-known member
Of course, "known range" is open to interpretation. I was mostly thinking about birds that have only ever been known from a very small area rather than birds that have been reduced to one in recent times thanks to human activity.
Having said that, it's still interesting to talk about birds like Mad Pochard, which is now confined to what is barely larger than a pond.
The first time I visited Sichuan, Grey-hooded Parrotbill was known only from the tiny summit Plateau of Emei Shan, a few hundred square metres, but has since been found at several additional localities.
Isn’t there evidence that Razo Lark was once found on other islands? Also Laysan Teal and Laysan Finch were not originally restricted to Laysan?
 

jurek

Well-known member
I fell in love with East Himalayas when on a tour for the Bugun Liocichla. I cannot think there must be more avian gems, perhaps even more undiscovered species, hidden in those beautiful remote valleys.

@DMW - with the current model of tourism, there are indeed very many birds which are seen by 99% of birders at one and the same spot. :)
 

cajanuma

Well-known member
Saffron-breasted Redstart aka Guaiquinima Redstart is another one with a tiny range, restricted to the top of one tepui in Venezuela. Incidentally, of all the definitely extant birds in the world it must be in the top 10 of "species seen by the fewest birders"
 

raymie

Well-known member
United States
Nihoa Finch and Millerbird are endemic to a 0.69km2 island, smaller than Raso Lark 5.76km2

Both Zino and Bugio petrels have breeding ranges visible from one spot (actually, on a clear day, both are visible from one spot). However part of the population is dispersed on sea at any one time.

Bugun Liocichla may be more widespread, because it lives on extremely steep slopes in a roadless region, most of which was never explored by ornithologists. This is also the reason why it remained unknown for so long.

This question could be quite easily answered if Birdlife website could be searched as a database by all possible values (area of occupancy).
Millerbird is found on two islands - Laysan and Nihoa.
 

DMW

Well-known member
I fell in love with East Himalayas when on a tour for the Bugun Liocichla. I cannot think there must be more avian gems, perhaps even more undiscovered species, hidden in those beautiful remote valleys.

@DMW - with the current model of tourism, there are indeed very many birds which are seen by 99% of birders at one and the same spot. :)
Don't get me wrong, I'm not arguing that the entire range of Bugun Liocichla is definitively restricted to what is currently known, and there is a good chance that new populations will be discovered, but it is surprising and perhaps worrying that this hasn't happened.
The Eastern Himalayas are wonderful, my favourite part of the world. There could well be a few surprises in the remoter parts - Naung Mung Scimitar-Babbler a case in point.
 

dandsblair

David and Sarah
Supporter
How about Prince Ruspoli's Turaco a large colourful bird that is pretty obvious around fruiting trees but now found only in 3 forest patches with most birds seen near Negele in S Ethiopia
 

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