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Rufous Scrub-bird Atrichornis rufescens
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Justification
This species has been uplisted to Endangered it has a very small, severely fragmented area of occupancy, and is experiencing habitat destruction and a continuing population decline. Inappropriate management continues to threaten the quality of its habitat and there are concerns that drying caused by climate change may lead to its disappearance from much of its current range.

Taxonomic source(s)
Christidis, L.; Boles, W. E. 2008. Systematics and taxonomy of Australian birds. CSIRO Publishing, Collingwood, Australia.

Distribution and population
Atrichornis rufescens occurs in isolated populations in north-eastern New South Wales and south-eastern Queensland, Australia. A. r. rufescens occurs in the Gibraltar Ranges, Border Ranges, the northern part of the McPherson Range and in parts of the Main Range, but formerly occurred in lowland habitats of the Rich­mond and Tweed River basins. A. r. ferrieri occurs on Barrington Tops, Hastings Range and in the Dorrigo/ Ebor area (Garnett et al. 2011). he species is mostly confined to areas above 600 m but an observation at 240 m has been documented. In the early 19th century, the population size may have been c.12,000 pairs, but surveys from 1979-1983 estimated it at c.2,500 pairs, A. r. rufescens numbering 730 pairs and A. r. ferrieri 1,720 pairs at a density of about 6 pairs/ km2 (Ferrier 1984, in Garnett et al. 2011). Declines are suspected in both sub­species (Ekert 2005, in Garnett et al. 2011). Some subpopulations of A. r. rufescens are thought to have disappeared within the last 2 decades, including those at Mt Warning and Spicers Gap, while declines in A. r. ferrieri are inferred because of a reduction in area occupied by calling males in New England National Park (Garnett and Crowley 2000).


Population justification
Holmes (2007) estimated that the population may number as many as 12,000 pairs. Probably best placed in the band 20,000-49,999 individuals.

Trend justification
In the early 19th century, the population size was probably c.12,000 pairs, but surveys from 1979-1983 estimated it at c.2,500 pairs, rufescens numbering 730 pairs (Garnett and Crowley 2000).  Declines are suspected in both sub-species (Ekert 2005, in Garnett et al. 2011). Some subpopulations of A. r. rufescens are thought to have disappeared within the last 2 decades, including those at Mt Warning and Spicers Gap, while declines in A. r. ferrieri are inferred because of a reduction in area occupied by calling males in New England National Park (Garnett and Crowley 2000).

Ecology
The species requires dense, metre-high ground cover, a moist microclimate and deep leaf-litter, as found in rainforest and adjacent wet eucalypt forest above 600 m. The habitat used in rainforests is usually associated with canopy openings caused by natural tree-falls, selective logging, or watercourses. It forages on small invertebrates, including snails and insects, on the ground and over fallen logs, amongst leaf-litter and on other ground vegetation and debris, within the dense understorey (Higgins et al. 2001).


Threats
Most of the bird’s lowland habitat was cleared in the 19th century, and, while clearance itself is not a continuing threat with almost all birds being in protected areas, the subdivision of a small population into even smaller fragments makes each subpopulation more susceptible to random events. The suitability of remaining eucalypt forest, although, estimated to support 65% of the present population, is potentially threatened by inappropriate burning and logging practices, and may be threatened by wild fires during dry periods. Declines in density may also occur naturally as vegeta­tion matures and ground cover provides less shelter, so some fire or other disturbance such as storms may be necessary to maintain suitable habitat. There has also been an unexplained retreat of the southern part of the population to higher altitudes, even from uncleared forest, and this may be related to drying caused by climate change; it is not known if this retreat is continuing. In the longer term, the viability of some small remaining subpopulations may be questionable.


Conservation Actions Underway
Logging has been stopped in an area known to contain territories, and the vast majority of remaining birds are within protected areas. Some monitoring has been initiated Conservation Actions Proposed
Repeat surveys using similar methodology and develop a monitoring protocol for birds and habitat. Determine the effect of fire on territory occupation and determine the appropriate fire regime to maintain habitat suitability. Develop and implement fire management plans for all subpopulations. Maintain the ban on logging in all known territories. Assess whether experimental habitat manipulation is justified. Identify fire refugia at local and landscape levels (Garnett et al. 2011).


References
Garnett, S. T.; Crowley, G. M. 2000. The action plan for Australian birds 2000. Environment Australia, Canberra.

Garnett, S.T., Szabo, J.K. and Dutson, G. 2011. The Action Plan for Australian Birds 2010. CSIRO Publishing, Collingwood.

Higgins, P. J.; Peter, J. M.; Steele, W. K. 2001. Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic Birds: Tyrant-flycatchers to Chats. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Holmes, T. 2007. Assessment of the Rufous scrub-bird as vulnerable under the IUCN Red List.

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
Garnett, S., Mahood, S., McClellan, R., O'Brien, A., Symes, A., Taylor, J.

Contributors
Baker, B., Ford, H., Garnett, S., Holmes, T., Watson, D., Woinarski, J.

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

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2014) Species factsheet: Atrichornis rufescens. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 23/12/2014. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2014) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 23/12/2014.

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 scrub-bird (Atrichornis rufescens) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Endangered
Family Atrichornithidae (Scrub-birds)
Species name author (Ramsay, 1867)
Population size mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 17,300 km2
Country endemic? Yes
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species