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Black-breasted Parrotbill Paradoxornis flavirostris
BirdLife is updating this factsheet for the 2016 Red List
Please email us with any relevant information

This tall grassland specialist is thought to be in rapid decline as a result of the extensive loss and degradation of its habitat. It therefore qualifies 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.

19 cm. Large, thick-billed parrotbill with black patches on head-sides and throat. Extensive black area on upper breast and uniform rufous-buff remainder of underparts. Similar spp. Spot-breasted Parrotbill P. guttaticollis has arrow-shaped spotting on breast and pale buff underparts. Voice Gruff howh, jeehw and jahw notes, sometimes rhythmic series aw jahw jahw jahw and uhwi uhwi uhwi uhwi. Also higher-pitched series wi chi'chi'chi'chi'chi, wi yi'yi'yi'yi'yi; wi'uwi-uwi-uwi wi chu-chu-chu.

Distribution and population
Paradoxornis flavirostris is endemic to the Indian subcontinent, where it is known from the plains and foothills of the Brahmaputra valley in Arunachal Pradesh and Assam, north-east India (BirdLife International 2001). Historically, it was also recorded in Bangladesh and possibly eastern Nepal. Formerly described as locally common, there are recent records from just four sites, one in Arunachal Pradesh and three in Assam, at one of which it appears to be common.

Population justification
The population is estimated to number 2,500-9,999 individuals based on an assessment of known records, descriptions of abundance and range size. This is consistent with recorded population density estimates for congeners or close relatives with a similar body size, and the fact that only a proportion of the estimated Extent of Occurrence is likely to be occupied. This estimate is equivalent to 1,667-6,666 mature individuals, rounded here to 1,500-7,000 mature individuals.

Trend justification
A rapid and on-going population decline is suspected to be occurring, owing to the rapid loss and degradation of grassland habitats across the species's range.

It inhabits dense reed thickets and mixed tall grassland, predominantly on wet substrates, along lowland river floodplains and adjacent hills, where it also occurs in grassy forest clearings. It is found up to at least 900 m generally in small flocks, except during the breeding season (April- July). It is presumably resident, although there is some indication that it makes local seasonal movements in response to the rainy season.

The rapid and extensive loss and modification of tall grasslands and reedswamp throughout its limited range is the main threat. This is occurring as a result of drainage, conversion to agriculture (primarily rice-paddy, mustard and tea plantations), overgrazing by domestic livestock, grass harvesting for thatch production and inappropriate grassland management within protected areas. Burning of grassland in protected areas is also a major threat (Choudhury 2011). Extreme flooding events in the Brahmaputra valley, associated with rapid run-off from an increasingly denuded catchment, could damage grasslands, although some flooding may be beneficial to grassland quality.

Conservation Actions Underway
There are recent records from four protected areas in north-east India: Kaziranga, Manas (Choudhury 2007) and Dibru-Saikhowa National Parks and D'Ering Wildlife Sanctuary. Conservation Actions Proposed
Conduct surveys in remaining suitable habitat throughout its range to establish its current distribution and status. Research habitat use and seasonal movements. Extend, upgrade and link, where possible, existing protected areas, and establish new ones, in order to adequately conserve remaining tracts of grassland. Promote regeneration of grasslands throughout its historic range. Strictly regulate burning of tall grassland in protected areas. Control livestock-grazing in protected areas to reduce rates of loss and degradation of tall grassland. Promote widespread conservation awareness initiatives focusing on sustainable management of grassland to maximise both thatch productivity for local people and available habitat for threatened grassland bird species.

BirdLife International. 2001. Threatened birds of Asia: the BirdLife International Red Data Book. BirdLife International, Cambridge, U.K.

Choudhury, A. 2007. A day of the grassland birds: a first-hand report from Manas National Park. Mistnet 8(3): 4-5.

Choudhury, A. 2011. Records of Black-breasted Parrotbill Paradoxornis flavirostris from Manas National Park, Assam, in north-east India. Forktail 27: 106-107.

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., Gilroy, J., Taylor, J., Allinson, T

Choudhury, A., Rahmani, A.

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

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Paradoxornis flavirostris. Downloaded from on 26/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 26/10/2016.

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 - Black-breasted parrotbill (Paradoxornis flavirostris) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Vulnerable
Family Timaliidae (Babblers and parrotbills)
Species name author Gould, 1836
Population size 1500-7000 mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 36,500 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species