This species has been uplisted to Vulnerable because it has a small, declining population within which all subpopulations are very small, occurring at few locations within a very small Area of Occupancy. Historically large parts of its range have been lost to habitat conversion, however recent declines have been primarily driven by fires, as the species prefers mallee heath habitat which has not been recently burnt.
Distribution and populationPachycephala rufogularis
Christidis, L.; Boles, W. E. 2008. Systematics and taxonomy of Australian birds. CSIRO Publishing, Collingwood, Australia.
is restricted to eastern South Australia and adjacent north-western Victoria, Australia
, with outlying populations in mallee isolates in New South Wales. The largest remaining population, in the Riverland Biosphere Reserve is estimated to contain c1,000 mature individuals, with 100-200 pairs in the Ngarkat / Big Desert / Wyperfield complex and 100 pairs in the Murray-Sunset / Hattah complex. Given that there are thought to be only small numbers in Scotia and central New South Wales, the total population is estimated to be no greater than 2,000 mature individuals (Garnett et al.
2011). Fires have driven ongoing population declines in much of the former range.Population justification
The population in the Riverland Biosphere Reserve is estimated to contain c1,000 mature individuals, with 100-200 pairs in the Ngarkat / Big Desert / Wyperfield complex and 100 pairs in the Murray-Sunset / Hattah complex. Given that there are thought to be only small numbers in Scotia and central New South Wales, the total population is estimated to be no greater than 2,000 mature individuals (Garnett et al.
The species is suspected to be declining at a rate of 20-29% over three generations (19 years) owing to deteriorating habitat quality (Garnett et al.
The species breeds in mallee eucalypts 5-8 m tall that form an open canopy over a moderately dense and diverse shrub layer, and is usually found in habitats with spinifex Triodia
hummock grassland or tall open heath, especially mallee unburned for 21-44 years or heath-dominated mallee unburned for 10-24 years (Garnett et al.
2011). Other woodland habitats are occupied outside the breeding season. It feeds on insects and other invertebrates and forages on or close to the ground. Threats
Clearance of mallee in the 19th and 20th centuries caused the loss of over half the historic range of the species. In remaining habitat, fires represent the primary current threat as the species prefers a vegetation age of at least five years after fire. Fires made 90% of Billiate Conservation Park unsuitable in 1988, as well as large tracts of Ngarkat Conservation Park and the Big Desert in 1986-1988, and a large fire burnt a substantial proportion of Taylorville Station, Riverland Biosphere Reserve in the 1990s. Over a period of 20 years, the species has been replaced by Gilbert's Whistler P. inornata
at Chapman's Bore and parts of the western Murray Mallee, probably as a result of changes in habitat, however competition between the two species is thought to be secondary compared to other threats (Garnett et al.
2011). Grazing by mammalian herbivores including livestock, feral goats Hircus capra
and rabbits Oryctolagus cuniculus
may cause habitat degradation in some areas and predation by Red Fox Vulpes vulpes
is a further potential threat (Garnett et al.
2011). Harvesting of broombush Melaleuca uncinata
continues at some sites and may have negative local effects on whistler habitat (Garnett et al.
2011). Most sub-populations are now in areas managed for conservation. Conservation Actions Underway
No targeted conservation action is known for this species, but the majority of remaining populations are in protected areas. Conservation Actions Proposed
Monitor trends in major sub-populations, and rates of recovery from fire. Minimise the frequency and scale of fire in occupied sites. Monitor populations at key sites, especially where management is taking place, and study the distribution and numbers outside protected areas. Research the extent of genetic isolation of geographically separated populations and the potential need for active translocations, and develop a reintroduction programme if necessary. Study the efficacy of herbivore and fox control, and the impact of broombush harvesting operations, amending harvesting protocols if necessary. Manage total grazing pressure, especially from introduced herbivores. Work with landholders outside protected areas to manage their land appropriately (Garnett et al.
Related state of the world's birds case studies
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.
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
Benstead, P., Garnett, S., Symes, A., Taylor, J.
IUCN Red List evaluators
Butchart, S., Taylor, J.
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Pachycephala rufogularis. Downloaded from
http://www.birdlife.org on 29/05/2016.
Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from
http://www.birdlife.org on 29/05/2016.
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.
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