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Celestial Monarch Hypothymis coelestis
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This species is declining rapidly as a consequence of widespread and continuing reductions in the extent and quality of lowland forest. This is causing severe fragmentation of its presumably small population, qualifying it as Vulnerable.

Taxonomic source(s)
Sibley, C. G.; Monroe, B. L. 1990. Distribution and taxonomy of birds of the world. Yale University Press, New Haven, USA.

18 cm. Slim, electric-blue, canopy-dwelling flycatcher. Entire plumage dark vivid sky-blue, washed lilac on cheeks and throat. Duller grey-blue on belly. Narrow yellowish eye-ring. Elongated, paler electric-blue crown feathers form droopy crest which usually lies flat, only raised when excited. Female similar although slightly duller. Similar spp. Black-naped Monarch H. azurea and Short-crested Monarch H. helenae differ in black facial markings and generally show less of a crest. Voice Distinctive, fast, high-pitched tee-tee-tee and typical rasping alarm call. Hints Joins mixed feeding flocks. Tends to stay mostly in canopy.

Distribution and population
Hypothymis coelestis is a widespread endemic of the Philippines, where it has been recorded from the islands of Luzon, Negros, Sibuyan, Samar, Dinagat, Mindanao, Basilan and Tawitawi (Collar et al. 1999, B. Tabaranza in litt. 2007). Early collectors generally considered it rare, but it was reportedly commoner on Basilan and Sibuyan than it was on Negros in 1959. The subspecies rabori, endemic to the Visayas, is likely to be extinct: it has not been recorded on Negros since 1959 and was not found in searches of Sibuyan in the early 1990s or subsequently (del Hoyo et al. 2006). The species may also have been extirpated from Basilan. Recent records derive from fewer than 10 sites, on Luzon, Dinagat, Mindanao and Tawitawi. A considerable decline is likely, although its apparent patchy distribution and the ease with which it may be overlooked, suggest that it may be less rare than available evidence suggests.

Population justification
The population size is preliminarily estimated to fall into the band 2,500-9,999 mature individuals. This equates to 3,750-14,999 individuals in total, rounded here to 3,500-15,000 individuals.

Trend justification
Lowland forests in the Philippines have been largely deforested, and remaining fragments remain under intense pressure from illegal logging, conversion to wood-pulp plantations and agriculture, and logging and mining concessions. The species is therefore suspected to be declining rapidly.

It inhabits the canopy and middle storeys of lowland forest, forest edge and secondary growth up to 750 m, although generally much lower. It has been postulated that it may be a riverine specialist, particularly in areas with a marked dry season, which could account for its seemingly patchy distribution. However, whilst this is possibly the case on Luzon, it is not true on Mindanao (R. Hutchinson in litt. 2012).

Widespread, continuing deforestation, particularly in the lowlands, had reduced original forest cover to an estimated 4% on Negros by the late 1980s, to 24% on Luzon (where forest cover in the Sierra Madre has declined by 83% since the 1930s) and 29% on Mindanao. Moreover, much remaining lowland forest throughout its range is under logging concessions or consideration for mining applications. Habitat is also threatened by road development plans in the Sierra Madre and illegal logging. Forest at Bislig, the site of the only recent records on Mindanao, was widely cleared under concession and planted with exotic trees for paper production. Since the paper operation finished in 2005, the area has been overrun by illegal settlers and loggers (D. Allen in litt. 2012, R. Hutchinson in litt. 2012). Remaining beach forest on Mantibuan, Tawitawi where it may have been recorded in 2007 is threatened by plantations for cassava, coconut and banana (B. Tabaranza in litt. 2007). There is little remaining forest elsewhere on Tawitawi.

Conservation Actions Underway
It has been recently recorded in one protected area, the Northern Sierra Madre Natural Park, and two further sites proposed for conservation funding, on Tawitawi and Dinagat, where a three-year community resource management programme began in 1996.Conservation Actions Proposed
Conduct extensive surveys in remaining suitable habitat, particularly sites with historical records (e.g. Mts Hilong-hilong, Mayo and Sugarloaf on Mindanao, Mt Capoto-an on Samar and Mt Cetaceo on Luzon) to assess its current distribution and identify further key sites. Promote more effective protection of lowland forest in the Northern Sierra Madre Natural Park and other key sites. Use it as a promotional flagship for lowland forest conservation (e.g. through posters and postcards).

Collar, N. J.; Mallari, N. A. D.; Tabaranza, B. R. J. 1999. Threatened birds of the Philippines: the Haribon Foundation/BirdLife International Red Data Book. Bookmark, Makati City.

del Hoyo, J.; Elliott, A.; Christie, D. 2006. Handbook of the Birds of the World, vol. 11: Old World Flycatchers to Old World Warblers. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.

Further web sources of information
Detailed species accounts from the Threatened birds of Asia: the BirdLife International Red Data Book (BirdLife International 2001).

Explore HBW Alive for further information on this species

Search for photos and videos, and hear sounds of this species from the Internet Bird Collection

Text account compilers
Benstead, P., Bird, J., Davidson, P., Lowen, J., Peet, N., Taylor, J., Khwaja, N. & Allinson, T

Allen, D., Tabaranza, B. & Hutchinson, R.

IUCN Red List evaluators
Butchart, S., Symes, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Hypothymis coelestis. Downloaded from on 28/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 28/10/2016.

This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000) Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004) Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife

To contribute to discussions on the evaluation of the IUCN Red List status of Globally Threatened Birds, please visit BirdLife's Globally Threatened Bird Forums.

Additional resources for this species

ARKive species - Celestial monarch (Hypothymis coelestis) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Vulnerable
Family Monarchidae (Monarchs)
Species name author Tweeddale, 1877
Population size 2500-9999 mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 168,000 km2
Country endemic? Yes
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species