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Black-faced Pitta Pitta anerythra
BirdLife is updating this factsheet for the 2016 Red List
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The conservation status of this species is not well understood. It has been categorised as Vulnerable on the basis of its very small known population. Further research may show the population to be even smaller or to be declining, in which case it would warrant uplisting to a higher threat category. Although it is a secretive species, negative reports from two of the three islands where it occurs are likely to be valid as it has a distinctive call (apparently given year-round) and, where it does occur, it is well-known to local people on account of its beauty.

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

Taxonomic note

15 cm. Typical pitta with prominent sky-blue wing-coverts. Bright green upperparts, warm buff underparts. Black mask encircles face and variably across forehead. Similar spp. No other pitta is known from the range but vagrant Hooded Pitta P. sordida and Noisy Pitta P. versicolor are possible. Voice Single or double rasping tooyiii. Hints Very wary. Calls from high perches.

Distribution and population
Pitta anerythra is endemic to Bougainville, Papua New Guinea, and Choiseul and Santa Isabel, Solomon Islands. It was formerly reasonably common, at least on Bougainville, where 40 specimens were collected before 1938 (Erritzoe and Erritzoe 1998). It was then not recorded until 1994 when it was found to be fairly common at Tirotonga on Santa Isabel (Gibbs 1996), with up to three birds heard calling simultaneously (Gibbs in litt 1994, Gibbs 1996, G. Dutson pers. obs. 1998). Searches and interviews on Choiseul and Bougainville (until the island became closed to visitors) have been unsuccessful (Gibbs in litt 1994, K. D. Bishop in litt. 1997, G. Dutson pers. obs. 1998). There are unconfirmed reports from Kolombangara and Vangunu (Buckingham et al. 1995, M. Iles verbally 1998); although these islands neighbour Choiseul, they are in a different biogeographic subregion and thus this species is unlikely to breed there.

Population justification
The population is estimated to number 250-999 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 375-1,499 individuals in total, rounded here to 350-1,500 individuals.

Trend justification
There are no data on population trends; however, it has not been found on two (out of three) islands within its range so it may have declined overall.

At Tirotonga, it is found in primary forest, and also small forest remnants and regrowth thickets within a patchwork of gardens between 400-600 m. Here it is more common in the secondary thickets of the gardened areas and less common in large tracts of primary forest. Two nests found in 1998 were in tiny fragments of closed-canopy forest next to gardens and thickets, one in 1999 was in primary forest (M. Hafe verbally 1998, 1999). In the 1920s and 1930s, the Whitney expeditions found this species in forested mountain valleys and coastal and alluvial plains (Rothschild and Hartert 1905, Mayr 1945).

At Tirotonga, it occurs beside settlements with cats, dogs and rats which may indicate that it is not susceptible to introduced mammalian predators (Gibbs in litt 1994, Gibbs 1996, G. Dutson pers. obs. 1998, M. Hafe verbally 1998, 1999). However, the lack of recent records from Bougainville and Choiseul is concerning (K. D. Bishop in litt. 1997). It may have a very patchy distribution or it may have declined severely away from Tirotonga. Some of the historical specimens were taken in alluvial valleys (Mayr 1945) and this habitat is threatened by the extensive logging of lowland forests.

Conservation Actions Underway
An ecotourism facility proposed for Tirotonga will help to underline the importance of conserving this species.Conservation Actions Proposed
Search for this species away from Tirotonga with the aid of tape-recordings. Survey Bougainville once the island opens to research. Interview inland villagers across its range. Monitor numbers calling around Tirotonga. Map occurrences around Tirotonga in relation to forest-types. Investigate basic ecology at Tirotonga. Aid establishment and marketing of ecotourism at Tirotonga. Initiate public awareness programmes, initially on Santa Isabel.

Buckingham, D. L.; Dutson, G. C. L.; Newman, J. L. 1995. Birds of Manus, Kolombangara and Makira (San Cristobal) with notes on mammals and records from other Solomon Islands.

Erritzoe, J.; Erritzoe, H. B. 1998. Pittas of the world: a monograph on the pitta family. The Lutterworth Press, Cambridge, UK.

Gibbs, D. 1996. Notes on Solomon Island birds. Bulletin of the British Ornithologists' Club 116: 18-25.

Mayr, E. 1945. Birds of the southwest Pacific: a field guide to the birds of the area between Samoa, New Caledonia and Micronesia. Macmillan, New York.

Rothschild, W.; Hartert, E. 1905. Further contributions to our knowledge of the ornis of the Solomon Islands. Novitates Zoologicae 12: 243-268.

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
Derhé, M., Dutson, G., Mahood, S., O'Brien, A., Stattersfield, A.

Bishop, K., Dutson, G., Gibbs, D., Hafe, M., Iles, M.

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

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Pitta anerythra. Downloaded from on 21/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 21/10/2016.

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 Pittidae (Pittas)
Species name author Rothschild, 1901
Population size 250-999 mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 13,200 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species