email a friend
printable version
Forest Rock-thrush Monticola sharpei
BirdLife is updating this factsheet for the 2016 Red List
Please email us with any relevant information

Although this species may have a restricted range, it is not believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size has not been quantified, but it is not believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.

Taxonomic source(s)
Goodman, S. M.; Weigt, L. A. 2002. The generic and species relationships of the reputed endemic Malagasy genus Pseudocossyphus (family Turdidae). Ostrich 73(1 & 2): 26-35.

Taxonomic note
Monticola sharpei (Sibley and Monroe 1990, 1993) has been split into M. sharpei and M. erythronotus following Goodman and Weigt (2002) and (Collar 2005) on the basis of multiple morphological characters (reduced blackish terminal tail-band and longer tail, male with reddish-brown back, no blue on breast, female with brighter upperparts and tail, no white streaking on breast) in spite of an absence of genetic distinctiveness (Outlaw et al. 2007). However, M. sharpei and M. bensoni (Sibley and Monroe 1990, 1993) have been lumped into M. sharpei on the basis of evidence in Goodman and Weigt (2002) and Outlaw et al. (2007), plus a review of recordings of vocalisations by the BirdLife Taxonomic Working Group.

A small forest-dwelling rock-thrush. Males are blue on head, mantle and upper breast, bright orange on lower breast and belly. Females are brown on back, wings and tail, with paler underparts scalloped and streaked browner. The bases of the outer tail-feathers of both sexes are orange. Similar spp. From Benson's Rock-thrush P. bensoni by overall more intense colours, especially the orange on the breast of the male and the darker brown back and breast-streaking of the female. Hints A discreet denizen of the rainforest understorey. Males are most easily detected by the song, a rather quiet "toee toee toee" or variants, often delivered from the sub-canopy.

Distribution and population
This species is endemic to the forests of Madagascar. There are two subspecies: M. s. sharpei occurs in the Sambirano region of the north-west and relict forests of the high plateau (Langrand 1990), whilst M. s. bensoni (formerly considered a separate species) has a relatively broad range in south-central and south-western Madagascar (Langrand and Goodman 1996). Populations are found in numerous protected areas: Ambatovaky Special Reserve, Andohahela National Park, Andringitra National Park, Anjanaharibe-South Special Reserve, Ankeniheny Classified Forest, Betampona Natural Reserve, Bezavona Classified Forest, Haute Rantabe Classified Forest, Kalambatritra Special Reserve, Mangerivola Special Reserve, Mantadia National Park, Marojejy National Park, Marotandrano Special Reserve, Masoala National Park, Mindongy-South National Park, Onive Classified Forest, Ramanofana National Park, Tsaratanana Natural Reserve, Vondrozo Classified Forest, Zahamena National Park, Isalo National Park and Zombitse-Vohibasia National Park (Langrand and Goodman 1996, ZICOMA 1999). In 1994 the population density of M. s. sharpei was estimated at 94-216 singing birds per km2 in Ajanaharibe-sud between 1,260 m and 1,950 m (Hawkins et al. 1998), and in 1995 at 38-162 singing birds per km2 in high-altitude forest at Zahamena (Hawkins 1995).

Population justification
The global population size has not been quantified, but the species is described as locally common to fairly common, although restricted to eastern Madagascar(del Hoyo et al. 2005).

Trend justification
The population is suspected to be in decline owing to ongoing habitat destruction.

M. s. sharpei is found in mid-altitude and montane rainforest where it is fairly common, but it is also found on the edges of forest and in open scrubby areas adjacent to high-mountain forest (Morris and Hawkins 1998, ZICOMA 1999). M. s. bensoni inhabits semi-arid rocky country, e.g. cliffs and gorges (Langrand 1990), with adjacent arborescent vegetation which may be bushy or scant, but which also includes remnant dry deciduous forests in the west of its range (Langrand and Goodman 1996). It appears to be able to re-colonize areas of burned ground and regenerating tree-heath Philippia (Langrand and Goodman 1996).

Both subspecies are threatened by habitat destruction for commercial logging and clearance for subsistence agriculture, uncontrolled sapphire mining, with concomitant increases in fire frequency, general hunting and disturbance (A. F. A. Hawkins in litt. 2000).

Collar, N. J. 1999. The type locality and conservation status of Monticola bensoni. Ostrich 70: 151.

Collar, N. J.; Stuart, S. N. 1985. Threatened birds of Africa and related islands: the ICBP/IUCN Red Data Book. International Council for Bird Preservation, and International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, Cambridge, U.K.

Hawkins, A. F. A.; Thiollay, J. M.; Goodman, S. M. 1998. The birds of the réserve spéciale d'Anjanaharibe-Sud, Madagascar. Fieldiana Zoology News Series no. 90, pp. 93-122. Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago, IL.

Langrand, O. 1990. Guide to the birds of Madagascar. Yale University Press, New Haven, USA.

Langrand, O.; Goodman, S. M. 1996. Current distribution and status of Benson's Rockthrush Pseudocossyphus bensoni, a Madagascar endemic. Ostrich 67: 49-54.

Morris, P.; Hawkins, F. 1998. Birds of Madagascar: a photographic guide. Pica Press, Robertsbridge, UK.

Sinclair, I.; Langrand, O. 1998. Birds of the Indian Ocean Islands: Madagascar, Mauritius, Réunion, Rodrigues, Seychelles, The Comoros. Struik Publishers (Pty) Ltd, Cape Town, South Africa.

ZICOMA. 1999. Zones d'Importance pour la Conservation des Oiseaux a Madagascar.

Further web sources of information
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
Ekstrom, J., Butchart, S., Harding, M., Fisher, S., Gilroy, J.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Monticola sharpei. Downloaded from on 27/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 27/10/2016.

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.

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Least Concern
Family Muscicapidae (Chats and Old World flycatchers)
Species name author (Gray, 1871)
Population size mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 243,000 km2
Country endemic? Yes
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species