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Rufous-headed Ground-roller Atelornis crossleyi
BirdLife is updating this factsheet for the 2016 Red List
Please email us with any relevant information

This species is listed as Near Threatened because it may suffer a moderately rapid population decline during the next ten years, owing to habitat loss for subsistence agriculture combined with a potential increase in hunting pressure. If the rate of any future decline is found to be greater, the species may qualify for uplisting to a higher threat category.

Taxonomic source(s)
del Hoyo, J.; Collar, N. J.; Christie, D. A.; Elliott, A.; Fishpool, L. D. C. 2014. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Barcelona, Spain and Cambridge UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International.

A round-headed thrush-like terrestrial bird. Head and breast orange-red, upperparts including wings green-brown, with an iridescent pale blue patch on carpal joint. A blackish, curved patch on the upper breast is marked with short vertical white streaks. Bill and legs are dark grey. Similar spp. The combination of the reddish head, black throat patch and terrrestrial behaviour make this species difficult to mistake for any other. Hints Moves around on the ground among low dense vegetation in primary montane rainforest, catching small terrestrial invertebrates such as cockroaches and beetles. Sings from a perch 1-3 m up, a rather high-pitched "do-op", slightly disyllabic.

Distribution and population
Atelornis crossleyi is found in the more humid highland areas of the evergreen forest belt of eastern Madagascar (ZICOMA 1999), from Tsaratanana south to Andohahela. It has a larger population and wider distribution than was once thought (A. F. A. Hawkins in litt. 1995; Morris and Hawkins 1998).

Population justification
The population size of this species has not been quantified. Further research is required.

Trend justification
The species may suffer a moderately rapid population decline during the next ten years, owing to habitat loss for subsistence agriculture combined with a potential increase in hunting pressure.

It inhabits humid parts of lowland to high-altitude rainforest, occurring from sea-level to 2,000 m, and is at its most common between 1,250 and 1,750 m (del Hoyo et al. 2001). It is predominantly a terrestrial feeder, taking a variety of invertebrates. Breeding may take place in December-January. The nest burrow is 0.3-0.5 m long and is excavated in a sloping earth bank. Its clutch-size has been recorded as two (del Hoyo et al. 2001).

The species's habitat is threatened by slash-and-burn cultivation (Du Puy and Moat 1996; del Hoyo et al. 2001), although it is not as affected as species that are restricted to lowland forests, which are under the greatest threat (del Hoyo et al. 2001). Increased hunting could seriously impact this species.

Conservation Actions Underway
It occurs in at least 12 protected areas (del Hoyo et al. 2001). Conservation Actions Proposed
Conduct surveys to obtain data on density and thus a total population estimate. Monitor rates of habitat clearance and degradation across its range. Increase the area of suitable habitat that is protected.

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.

del Hoyo, J.; Elliott, A.; Sargatal, J. 2001. Handbook of the Birds of the World, vol. 6: Mousebirds to Hornbills. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.

Du Puy, D. J.; Moat, J. 1996. A refined classification of the primary vegetation of Madagascar based on the underlying geology: using GIS to map its distribution and to assess its conservation status. In: Lourenço, W.R. (ed.), Proceedings of the International Symposium on the biogeography of Madagascar, pp. 205-218. ORSTOM, Paris.

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

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
Evans, M., O'Brien, A., Shutes, S., Starkey, M., Symes, A., Taylor, J.

Gee, B., Hawkins, F.

IUCN Red List evaluators
Butchart, S., Taylor, J.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Atelornis crossleyi. 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.

Additional resources for this species

ARKive species - Rufous-headed ground-roller (Atelornis crossleyi) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Near Threatened
Family Brachypteraciidae (Ground-rollers)
Species name author Sharpe, 1875
Population size Unknown mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 22,500 km2
Country endemic? Yes
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species