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Ochre-winged Honeyeater Macgregoria pulchra

Although this species is poorly known, it seems likely that its total population is small and fragmented across a small range and is declining, leading to classification as Vulnerable. If further information shows that its population is even smaller, the species would warrant uplisting to a higher threat category.

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
Macgregoria pulchra (Sibley and Monroe 1990, 1993) is moved to the family Meliphagidae following Cracraft and Feinstein (2000).

39 cm. Large, black bird with yellow semicircular wattles behind eyes and large ochre wing-patch. Similar spp. Common Sooty Honeyeater Melipotes fumigatus (22 cm) is dark with yellow eye-patches but lacks wing-patches and is much smaller. Voice Calls constantly. Rapidly repeated jeet..jeet.. and longer, softer peer. Hints Search only in its highly distinctive habitat. Conspicuous through its calling, noisy flight and habit of perching in open in forest edge or patches.

Distribution and population
Macgregoria pulchra is distributed in small disjunct populations in the highest mountains of New Guinea, namely the Snow, Oranje and Star Mountains of Papua (formerly Irian Jaya), Indonesia, and the Wharton and Owen Stanley ranges of Papua New Guinea. It remains common and tame above 3,000 m in the Star Mountains, where the Ketengban people protect the species for cultural reasons (Frith and Beehler 1998), but is rare on Mt Albert Edward in the Whartons, with only one record since 1933 (Safford and Smart 1996). The species was found to be fairly common in this area, but moved with apparent changes in fruiting and habitat (B. Beehler in litt. 2012). There are no population estimates but most records are of only one to three birds. Its occupied range has been estimated at less than 1,000 km2 with minimal interchange between the isolated subpopulations (Frith and Beehler 1998).

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
It remains common and tame above 3,000 m in the Star Mountains, where the Ketengban people protect the species for cultural reasons, but it has become rare in other areas owing to hunting pressure, especially where access has improved in recent years. The likely rate of suspected decline has not been estimated.

It is restricted to subalpine forest, including patches within alpine grassland, dominated by its major food-plant, the podocarp Dacrycarpus compactus. Its partial nomadism and its breeding cycle are tied to the unpredictable fruiting of this tree (Beehler 1981, Beehler 1983, Beehler 1991a, b, Hicks and Burrows 1992, Frith and Beehler 1998). Birds also forage for other fruits in low bushes and on the ground, and in epiphytes and foliage, presumably for arthropods (Clapp 1986, Safford and Smart 1996, Frith and Beehler 1998). It is most commonly recorded between 3,200-3,500 m, but occasionally from 2,700-4,000 m (Frith and Beehler 1998).

Its absence from great swathes of the central highlands suggests historic extinctions from habitat changes and hunting pressures (Barker and Croft 1977, Frith and Beehler 1998). It is a popular gamebird, being tame, conspicuous and site-faithful (Beehler 1981, Frith and Beehler 1998). However shotguns are essentially no longer available in New Guinea making hunting (with traditional means) more difficult. The threat from hunting is exacerbated by its nomadism and its small, fragmented populations. Whilst much of its range is remote and inaccessible to hunters, new roads such as one in Wamena in Papua, are enabling much easier access and it has declined greatly at this site (P. Gregory in litt. 1999, D. Gibbs in litt. 2000). Climate change and associated impacts on vegetation may impact negatively on this species and others dependent on tundra habitat for breeding.

Conservation Actions Underway
This species is protected by law in both countries. Conservation Actions Proposed
Survey unvisited mountains within range. Estimate range and populations at known sites. Monitor numbers at most accessible sites. Research population structure and dispersal between locations. Investigate population trends through interviews with local hunters. Investigate hunting levels and attitudes to control amongst hunters. Create large, locally-managed forest reserves with an enforced hunting ban. Run awareness and education programmes for landowners. Enforce existing legislation. Use as a flagship species for any high-altitude ecotourism initiatives.

Barker, W. R.; Croft, J. R. 1977. The distribution of Macgregor's Bird-of-paradise. Emu 77: 219-222.

Beehler, B. 1981. Ecological structuring of forest bird communities in New Guinea. In: Gressitt, J.L. (ed.), Monographie biologicae, pp. 837-861. Dr W. Junk Publishers, The Hague.

Beehler, B. M. 1983. Notes on the behavior and ecology of Macgregor's Bird-of-paradise. Emu 83: 28-30.

Beehler, B. M. 1991. A naturalist in New Guinea. University of Texas Press, Austin, Texas.

Beehler, B. M. 1991. Papuan New Guinea's wildlife and environments-what we don't yet know. In: Pearl, M.; Beehler, B.; Allison, A.; Taylor, M. (ed.), Conservation and environment in Papua New Guinea: establishing research priorities, pp. 1-10. Wildlife Conservation International, New York.

Clapp, G. E. 1986. Birds of Mount Scratchley summit and environs: 3,520 metres asl in south-eastern New Guinea. Muruk 1: 75-84.

Frith, C. B.; Beehler, B. M. 1998. The birds of paradise. Oxford University Press, Inc, New York.

Hicks, R. K.; Burrows, I. 1992. Port Moresby ringing report: 1988. Muruk 5(2): 66-84.

Safford, R. J.; Smart, L. M. 1996. The continuing presence of Macgregor's Bird of Paradise Macgregoria pulchra on Mount Albert Edward, Papua New Guinea. Bulletin of the British Ornithologists' Club 116: 186-188.

Further web sources of information
Detailed species accounts from the Threatened birds of Asia: the BirdLife International Red Data Book (BirdLife International 2001).

Text account compilers
Bird, J., Derhé, M., Dutson, G., O'Brien, A., Pilgrim, J., Stattersfield, A.

Beehler, B., Gibbs, D., Gregory, P.

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

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2014) Species factsheet: Macgregoria pulchra. Downloaded from on 18/04/2014. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2014) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 18/04/2014.

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 - MacGregor’s bird-of-paradise (Macgregoria pulchra) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Vulnerable
Family Meliphagidae (Honeyeaters)
Species name author De Vis, 1897
Population size 2500-9999 mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 4,700 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species