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Biak Scrubfowl  Megapodius geelvinkianus
BirdLife is updating this factsheet for the 2016 Red List
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This little-known megapode is classified as Vulnerable because of its small population which continues to decline owing to a variety of possible threats.

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.
Jones, D. N.; Dekker, R. W. R. J.; Roselaar, C. S. 1995. The Megapodes. Oxford University Press, Oxford, U.K.

Taxonomic note
Megapodius freycinet (Sibley and Monroe 1990, 1993) has been split into M. freycinet and M. geelvinkianus following Jones et al. (1995).

36 cm. Medium-sized, all-brown megapode. Plumage largely dark grey with slight crest. Reddish or bluish face. Red or dark grey legs. Similar spp. No other gamebirds occur on these islands. Differs from rails such as Rufous-tailed Bush-hen Amaurornis moluccanus by crest, short bill and leg colour. Voice Various crowing and clucking calls. Hints Commonly heard and seen in Biak Utara Reserve.

Distribution and population
Megapodius geelvinkianus is endemic to Biak-Supiori in Papua (formerly Irian Jaya), Indonesia, and its satellite islands, Mios Korwar, Numfor, Manim and Mios Num. It is not clear whether one specimen, apparently from Manokwari on mainland Papua, represents a straggler from a nearby island or a mislabelled specimen (Jones et al. 1995). Its population size is unknown, but is believed to be small and declining. It was formerly common on Biak (Mayr and Meyer de Schauensee 1939) and it was heard regularly during the course of field visits to Biak between 1983 and 1997 (K. D. Bishop in litt. 2007), but only "small numbers" were seen during the 1990s on Owi (a satellite of Biak) and Supiori (Jones et al. 1995). It was recorded daily in and around Biak-Utara Reserve in 1997 (S. van Balen and B. M. Beehler in litt. 2000), and is still seen regularly by visitors (S. van Balen in litt. 2012). Overall, the population is thought to be in decline owing to a number of pressures on habitat within its range.

Population justification
The population is estimated to number 2,500-9,999 mature 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 3,750-14,999 individuals, rounded here to 3,500-15,000 individuals.

Trend justification
The species is suspected to be declining at a moderate rate, owing to on-going habitat loss and degradation, and hunting pressure.

It is apparently shy and wary but has been recorded in primary forest, logged forest, secondary growth, dry scrub and scrub near a river. It is regularly seen in disturbed habitat (S. van Balen in litt. 2012). However, there is no information on its habitat preferences, general habits, diet or breeding biology, although these are probably broadly similar to other Megapodius species. It presumably builds nest-mounds or buries its eggs between decaying roots of trees (Jones et al. 1995).

Specific threats are undocumented, but are likely to include egg-collecting (although its widely spaced nest-mounds may reduce this risk (S. van Balen and B. M. Beehler in litt. 2000), hunting (which is a documented threat to other species on the islands) and perhaps predation by introduced mammals (Dekker and McGowan 1995). Much forest on Biak (particularly the southern plains) and Numfor has been destroyed or damaged by logging and subsistence farming; much of the remainder is under pressure (Bishop 1982, K. D. Bishop in litt. 1996, D. Holmes in litt. 2000) although the north part of the island appears to be secure (S. van Balen in litt. 2012). Much of Supiori comprises virtually impenetrable forested limestone mountains, which is likely to be safe from habitat degradation.

Conservation Actions Underway
There are two protected areas on the islands, Biak-Utara and Pulau Supiori Nature Reserves, which cover substantial areas of lowland and hill forest on Biak and Supiori (Sujatnika et al. 1995). A further reserve has been proposed for Numfor (Diamond 1986). Conservation Actions Proposed
Conduct surveys on all known islands of occurrence to assess fully its distribution and current population status. Devise a list of management recommendations, including ensuring adequate protection of nesting areas if different from non-breeding habitats. Assess habitat requirements and threats. Conduct research into its breeding biology. Assess status of forest on Biak-Supiori. Prevent potential introduction of ground predators.

Baker, G.C.; Dekker, R.W. R.J.; Keane, A.M. in press. Megapodes: status survey and conservation action plan 2005-2009. IUCN and World Pheasant Association, Gland, Switzerland & Cambridge, UK.

Bishop, K. D. 1982. Endemic birds of Biak Island.

Dekker, R. W. R. J.; Fuller, R. A.; Baker, G. C. 2000. Megapodes. Status survey and conservation action plan 2000-2004. IUCN and World Pheasant Association, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK.

Dekker, R. W. R. J.; McGowan, P. J. K. 1995. Megapodes: an action plan for their conservation 1995-1999. International Union for Nature Conservation and Natural Resources, Gland, Switzerland.

Diamond, J. 1986. The design of a nature reserve system for Indonesian New Guinea. In: Soulé, M.E. (ed.), Conservation biology: the science of scarcity and diversity, pp. 485-503. Sinaeur, Sunderland, Mass.

Jones, D. N.; Dekker, R. W. R. J.; Roselaar, C. S. 1995. The Megapodes. Oxford University Press, Oxford, U.K.

Mayr, E.; Meyer de Schauensee, R. 1939. Zoological results of the Denison-Crockett Expedition to the south Pacific for the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, 1937-1938. Part 1: the birds of the Island of Biak. Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia 91: 1-37.

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

Sibley, C. G.; Monroe, B. L. 1993. A supplement to 'Distribution and taxonomy of birds of the world'. Yale University Press, New Haven, USA.

Sujatnika; Jepson, P.; Soehartono, T. R.; Crosby, M. J.; Mardiastuti, A. 1995. Conserving Indonesian biodiversity: the Endemic Bird Area approach. BirdLife International Indonesia Programme, Bogor.

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., Keane, A., Taylor, J., Khwaja, N.

Beehler, B., Bishop, K., Dekker, R., Holmes, D., van Balen, S., Dutson, G.

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

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Megapodius geelvinkianus. Downloaded from on 23/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 23/10/2016.

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 Vulnerable
Family Megapodiidae (Megapodes)
Species name author Meyer, 1874
Population size 2500-9999 mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 3,000 km2
Country endemic? Yes
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species