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Tuamotu Kingfisher Todiramphus gambieri
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This species is listed as Critically Endangered because it is restricted to an extremely small range on a single island, within which the quality of habitat has been reduced as cyclones have caused the loss of suitable nesting trees. Any potential change in land management within this tiny range could prove catastrophic for the species.

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.

Taxonomic note

Halcyon gambieri Collar and Andrew (1988), Todirhamphus gambieri Collar et al. (1994), Todirhamphus gambieri Sibley and Monroe (1990, 1993)

Buffy-cream head and neck. Variable amount of blue feathers on crown. Creamy-white forehead and broad, buffy neck-band. Dusky blue ear-coverts. White chin and underparts, often with rufous band across upper breast. Blue mantle, back, rump, wings and tail.

Distribution and population
Todiramphus gambieri is confined to the island of Niau in the Tuamotu Archipelago, French Polynesia, where the race niauensis was represented by 400-600 birds in 1974, and reported as common in 1990; the nominate gambieri having become extinct on Mangareva, Gambier Islands, probably prior to 1922 (Holyoak and Thibault 1984, Seitre and Seitre 1991, Seitre and Seitre 1992). Surveys in 2003 and 2004 estimated the total population as 39-51 individuals, significantly lower than previously supposed (Gouni and Sanford 2003, Gouni et al. 2004), but surveys in 2006-2008 suggested that the total population had remained relatively stable at around 125 individuals (Gouni et al. 2006, Gouni and Zysman 2007, D. Kesler in litt. 2008, 2009, 2010), with a slight increase to 135 individuals in 2009 (Gouni et al. 2009).

Population justification
Surveys in 2009 estimated 135 individuals, roughly equivalent to 90 mature individuals.

Trend justification
Approximately the same number of birds were detected annually in surveys from 2006-2008 (with a slight increase in 2009), and data from radio-marked and colour-banded birds do not indicate a major population crash or major population increase (D. Kesler in litt. 2009, 2010). However, studies of demography (Kesler et al. 2012a) indicate that the population may be declining substantially, and that juvenile survival and adult female survival may be the life history stages most compromised in the population.

This species prefers semi-open coconut plantation habitats (Gouni et al. 2006, Gouni and Zysman 2007, Coulombe et al. 2011), limestone forests, and cultivated areas around villages, and readily uses Niau's ephemeral wetlands and ocean coasts for foraging. In particular the species selects agricultural coconut plantations with open understory, hunting perches, and exposed ground (Coulombe et al. 2011, Kesler et al. 2012). Breeding is primarily from September to January (although an active nest has been observed in July, R. van der Vliet in litt. 2012) in nest cavities excavated from dead and decaying coconut palms (thus its choice of nest-site is limited) (Holyoak and Thibault 1984, Gouni et al. 2007, Gouni and Zysman 2007). It feeds on insects (e.g. small coleoptera) and small lizards (Gouni et al. 2006). The main food source for chicks is lizards (Gouni et al. 2006).

Competition for food resources with rats Rattus sp. may pose a threat to the breeding success of this species (Gouni and Sanford 2003, Gouni et al. 2004, Gouni et al. 2006, Gouni and Zysman 2007), while the principal threat to young birds may be predation by feral cats Felis catus (Gouni et al. 2006, Gouni and Zysman 2007): 25-50% of individuals are thought to disappear each year (Gouni et al. 2009). The removal of suitable nesting trees in 1984, following a hurricane in 1983, has reduced the availability of nesting sites (Gouni and Sanford 2003, Gouni et al. 2004, Gouni et al. 2006, Gouni and Zysman 2007). The species may benefit from agricultural management, as it prefers coconut plantations managed with prescribed burning for hunting (Coulombe et al. 2011) and survival in those areas is enhanced (Kesler et al. 2012a). As such, any changes to the land management of the island could prove catastrophic for the species. Cutting and burning of dead coconut trees may destroy nesting sites, and there is a risk of fire spreading to nesting trees or disturbance from smoke if fire is used to clean coconuts during the nesting season (Raust 2012).

Conservation Actions Underway
Niau is included in the Fakarava Man and Biosphere Protected Area (P. Raust in litt. 1999). A project studying the species's ecology, behaviour and movements took place from 2006 to 2012. The entire island was thoroughly surveyed for the birds, which were colour-ringed and radio-tagged to track movements, nesting success and survival. A demographic analysis of band returns and habitat impacts was conducted in 2012 and indicated extremely low survival in adult females and juvenile birds (Kesler et al. 2012a). Additional genetic studies have taken place to evaluate heritage and genetic variability that may impact survival. A rat control programme has been set up through work with the local community. This will target stands of coconut palms in which the species nests. Additionally, a cooperative program to protect nesting habitat was started with resident coconut farmers and an endangered species education program was initiated in the Niau primary school. Nesting trees are marked with signs giving recommendations for their protection, and trunks of nesting trees are banded to prevent predation by rats (Raust 2012). The natural history of the species was thoroughly investigated on Niau (Kesler 2011, Coulombe et al. 2011, Kesler et al. 2012a), following which an experimental translocation on Niau in 2010 proved successful and provided a means of testing translocation methods and assessing the impact of harvest from the donor population (Kesler et al. 2012b). The Makatea and Anaa (Gambier islands) have been assessed for their suitability for a translocated population, with the atoll complex of Anaa providing the best release option (D. Kessler in litt. 2012). Research is being conducted on the diet of invasive rats and cats to see whether they are predating chicks, or competing with adults (Vidal et al. 2010). Two studies have illustrated the birds' association with agricultural coconut plantations (Coulombe et al. 2011) and provide recommendations for managing coconut habitats to benefit the birds.
Conservation Actions Proposed
Research the impact of rats and cats on kingfisher survival and reproduction. Provide nest boxes to increase the availability of nest-sites (Gouni et al. 2004). Facilitate the establishment of a second supplementary population on Anaa through translocations (Fry et al. 1992, Gouni et al. 2006, D. Kesler in litt. 2008, 2009, 2010) and establish a captive-breeding programme to support future supplementations/reintroductions. Promote best practice with coconut farmers to reduce losses and disturbance to nesting trees (Raust 2012).

Related state of the world's birds case studies

Collar, N. J.; Butchart, S. H. M. 2013. Conservation breeding and avian diversity: chances and challenges. International Zoo Yearbook.

Coulombe, G. L.; Kesler, D. C.; Gouni, A. 2011. Agricultural coconut forest as habitat for the Critically Endangered Tuamotu Kingfisher (Todiramphus gambieri gertrudae). The Auk 128(2): 283-292.

Fry, C. H.; Fry, K.; Harris, A. 1992. Kingfishers, bee-eaters and rollers. Christopher Helm, London.

Gouni, A., Kesler, D.C., Sarsfield, R., Tehei, T., Gouni, J., Butaud, J., Blanc, L., Durieux, J., Marie, J. and Lichtlé, A. 2006. Société d'Ornithologie de Polynésie Manu, Taravao, French Polynesia.

Gouni, A.; Durieux, J.; Piquemal, D.; Albar, G.; Blanc, L.; Gfeller, H.; Levy, P.; Lau, N. 2007. Programme de conservation de la Gallicolombe erythroptère, Gallicolumba erythroptera.

Gouni, A.; Noiret, C.; Tehei, T.; Tahua, J.-B. 2004. Etude du Martin-chasseur de Niau, Todiramphus gambieri niauensis. Mise en place d'un programme de conservation.

Gouni, A.; Sanford, G. 2003. L'avifaune de Naiu (Polynésie française) en février 2003, cas particulier: Martin-chasseur, Todiramphus gambieri niauensis.

Gouni, A.; Zysman, T. 2007. Oiseaux du Fenua: Tahiti et ses îles. Téthys Éditions, Tahiti.

Holyoak, D. T.; Thibault, J. -C. 1984. Contribution à l'étude des oiseaux de Polynésie orientale. Memoires du Museum National d'Histoire Naturelle - Serie A: Zoologie 127: 1-209.

Kesler, D. C. 2011. Non-permanent radiotelemetry leg harness for small birds. Journal of Wildlife Management 75: 467-471.

Kesler, D. C., Laws, R. J., Cox, A. S., Gouni, A. and Stafford, J. D. 2012. Survival and population persistence in the critically endangered Tuamotu kingfisher. The Journal of Wildlife Management (in press).

Kesler, D. C.; Cox, A. S.; Albar, G.; Gouni, A.; Mejeur, J.; Plassé, C. 2012. Translocation of Tuamotu kingfishers, post-release exploratory behavior and harvest effects on the donor population. Pacific Science (in press).

Nitchen, J. W.; Knowles, L. J. 1995. Kingfishers of the world. Millbank Books, Bishop's Stortford, U.K.

Raust, P. 2012. Martin-chasseur de Niau: poursuite des opérations de sauvegarde. CEPA Magazine 25-26: 5-7.

Seitre, R.; Seitre, J. 1991. Causes de disparition des oiseaux terrestres de Polynésie Française. South Pacific Regional Environment Programme, Nouméa.

Seitre, R.; Seitre, J. 1992. Causes of land-bird extinctions in French Polynesia. Oryx 26: 215-222.

Vidal, E.; Millon, A.; Zarzoso-Lacoste, D. 2010. Partenariat scientifique avec la SOP Manu pour sauver le Koteuteu. Te Manu: 9-10.

Further web sources of information
Alliance for Zero Extinction (AZE) species/site profile. This species has been identified as an AZE trigger due to its IUCN Red List status and limited range.

Click here for more information about the Alliance for Zero Extinction (AZE)

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

Species Guardian Action Update

Text account compilers
Bird, J., Butchart, S., Derhé, M., Harding, M., O'Brien, A., Shutes, S., Stattersfield, A. & Symes, A.

Gouni, A., Kesler, D., Raust, P., van der Vliet, R. & O'Brien, M.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Todiramphus gambieri. 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 - Tuamotu kingfisher (Todiramphus gambieri) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Critically Endangered
Family Alcedinidae (Kingfishers)
Species name author (Oustalet, 1895)
Population size 90 mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 26 km2
Country endemic? Yes
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species