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Graceful Pitta Pitta venusta
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This poorly known species qualifies as Vulnerable because it is estimated to have a small population which is declining as a result of continuing forest loss and degradation.

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

16 cm. Small, bright, forest-dwelling pitta. Blackish head, upperparts and throat, maroon breast, sharply demarcated from bright crimson remainder of underparts. Azure-blue postocular streak to nape, and blue gloss to wing feathers with azure-blue line on outer edge of closed wing. Similar spp. Garnet Pitta P. granatina has bright crimson rear crown and nape. Voice Long, mournful whistle, lower-pitched than that of P. granatina, usually on an even pitch, sometimes inflected upwards. Hints Listen carefully for vocalisations in suitable habitat.

Distribution and population
Pitta venusta is endemic to the highlands of Sumatra, Indonesia (BirdLife International 2001). Records are infrequent, and the species was thought to be rare or very local, occurring in pockets. The apparent paucity of records and known sites may largely reflect a lack of widespread survey coverage. Increasing knowledge of the species's call has led to records at a number of new sites, suggesting that it may not be as rare as previously thought (N. Brickle in litt. 2007). Given the destruction of lowland and lower-montane forest in Sumatra, it must have declined.

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
A moderate and on-going population decline is suspected, based on the continuing loss of forest cover within Sumatra.

It inhabits the floor and undergrowth of hill dipterocarp and lower montane rainforest from 400 m to 1,400 m, frequenting dark, damp areas, in particular ravines under dense cover. It is assumed to be resident, but may perhaps make local altitudinal movements. In general, it is extremely skulking and difficult to observe.

Forest loss, degradation and fragmentation are undoubtedly the main threats, as all have been extensive on Sumatra. At least two-thirds to four-fifths of original lowland forest cover and at least one-third of montane forest has been lost, primarily to agricultural encroachment by shifting cultivators, a factor currently affecting large areas of hill dipterocarp and lower montane forest, even within protected areas. In 1984, Kerinci-Seblat National Park was cited as one of the ten most threatened protected areas in the Indo-Malayan Realm, owing to illegal encroachment of farming. At Gunung Singgalang, forest had been cleared up to 1,800-1,900 m as early as 1917, and indeed most recent records are from areas of broken forest with a high pressure from agriculture on their peripheries.

Conservation Actions Underway
This species has been nominally protected under Indonesian law since 1931. It occurs in Kerinci-Seblat and Bukit Barisan Selatan National Parks, and there are at least 20 protected areas in the Barisan mountain range, although most receive scant protection. Conservation Actions Proposed
Conduct extensive surveys for the species (ensuring familiarity with vocalisations to aid detection) in remaining tracts of hill dipterocarp and lower montane rainforest in Sumatra to establish its distribution, status and ecological requirements. Propose key sites for establishment as protected areas, or as extensions to existing reserves. Ensure effective management for Sumatran protected areas. Promote a widespread conservation awareness campaign aimed at reducing rates of forest loss through shifting cultivation.

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

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., Taylor, J., Tobias, J.

Brickle, N.

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

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Pitta venusta. 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 - Graceful pitta (Pitta venusta) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Vulnerable
Family Pittidae (Pittas)
Species name author Müller, 1835
Population size 2500-9999 mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 71,500 km2
Country endemic? Yes
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species