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Reunion Cuckooshrike Coracina newtoni
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BirdLife Species Guardian Société d'études ornithologiques de la Réunion (SEOR)
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This species has suffered a continuing decline in the one remaining subpopulation, which is thought to now number fewer than 25 pairs, and it is consequently classified as Critically Endangered. Two thirds of remaining individuals are male, and this ratio has worsened owing to unknown reasons, although introduced predators are implicated. Conservation work appears to have begun to address the gender imbalance but further intervention is required to combat current threats and reverse the continuing decline.

Taxonomic source(s)
Dowsett, R. J.; Forbes-Watson, A. D. 1993. Checklist of birds of the Afrotropical and Malagasy regions. Tauraco Press, Li
Sibley, C. G.; Monroe, B. L. 1990. Distribution and taxonomy of birds of the world. Yale University Press, New Haven, USA.

22 cm. Greyish arboreal bird. Male overall dark grey with paler underparts, especially on flanks and vent. Dark face imparts masked effect. Tail tipped white. Female dark brown above with very obvious, narrow white eyebrow-stripe and pale, finely barred underparts. Voice Shrill and clear whistled tui tui tui. Female gives harsh shrek alarm note. Hints Quiet, inconspicuous bird, particularly when feeding, occurring either singly or in pairs.

Distribution and population
Coracina newtoni is endemic to Réunion (to France), and restricted to two very small areas in the north-west (Plaine d'Affouches and Plaine des Chicots) (Thiollay and Probst 1999, Le Corre and Safford 2001). The population was estimated at 120 pairs after surveys in 1991, suggesting that numbers had been stable since 1974. However, the population was estimated at 100 singing males in the 2003-2004 breeding season, indicating that the species had declined (Ghestemme and Salamolard 2007). In 2003-2004, surveys revealed a skewed sex ratio, with 27% of males unpaired, and poor reproductive success, with only a third of females producing young (Ghestemme and Salamolard 2007). In 2004-2005, the proportion of surveyed males without mates had risen to 48%, with 30% of females producing young (Ghestemme and Salamolard 2007), and there was evidence that the species had declined in the east of its range (Ghestemme 2005a); the proportion of surveyed males without mates increased further to 57% in 2005-2006 (T. Ghestemme in litt. 2006), and 64% in 2006-2007 (T. Ghestemme in litt. 2007, 2008). Males are thought to now outnumber females by two to one, and in 2007 there were thought to be as few as 25 breeding pairs, but there are early indications that predator control is proving successful, with an increase in female survival and improved breeding success (T. Ghestemme in litt. 2007, 2008), and a sex ratio in 2010 of 1.88:1 in favour of males (SEOR 2012). In 2011/2012 31 breeding pairs were observed, of which 11 were successful, raising a total of 18 young (SEOR 2012).

Population justification
The population perhaps numbered as few as 25 breeding pairs, or 50 mature individuals, in 2007 (T. Ghestemme in litt. 2007). This roughly equates to 75 individuals in total.

Trend justification
Two thirds of the population are now males, and this ratio has worsened over time, indicating a continuing decline in the number of mature individuals, estimated at a rate of 1-19% over ten years.

It has been conjectured that it primarily occupied lowland forest in the past (Thiollay and Probst 1999). The species now occurs between 1,000 and 1,800 m (Salamolard and Ghestemme 2004), and is strictly associated with closed-canopy natural forest, occurring in mixed evergreen subtropical forest that also often includes areas of heath Philippia montana and tamarin (Acacia heterophylla) (Morgan and Kershaw 1990, Probst 1996, Thiollay and Probst 1999). Japanese red cedar (Cryptomeria japonica) plantations are only rarely visited and seasonal records in the heath forest are attributed to post-breeding dispersal. It is chiefly insectivorous but also eats the fruits of some native trees (Thiollay and Probst 1999). Breeding occurs between September and February, and it has an incubation period of 15-17 days and a fledging period of 20-23 days (Salamolard and Ghestemme 2004).

Nest predation by black rats (Rattus rattus), and to a lesser extent brown rats (R. norvegicus) and feral cats appears to be the primary reason for poor reproductive success; and it is possible that this explains the skewed sex ratio (Thiollay and Probst 1999, M. Le Corre in litt. 2000, Salamolard and Ghestemme 2004, B. Devuax per Poudroux undated). In recent years the spread of Red-whiskered Bulbul (Pycnonotus jocosus), has caused concern as it it thought it competes for food, breeding areas and may also predate cuckoo-shrike eggs (Krumenacker 2014). The dropping of litter in the Roche Ecrite Nature Reserve by visitors inadvertedly supports the proliferation of the rat population (Ghestemme 2005b, Poudroux undated).

Other major threats include poaching for trade and for food (Thiollay and Probst 1999,  M. Le Corre in litt. 2000, Ghestemme and Salamolard 2007), and disease (Ghestemme and Salamolard 2007). The species is also threatened by disturbance from recreational activities, fire, cyclones, invasive alien vegetation, potential competition with other bird species and habitat degradation caused by Rusa Deer (Cervus timorensis rusa) (Salamolard and Ghestemme 2004, Ghestemme and Salamolard 2007). The population may be limited by habitat quality and food resources (Ghestemme and Salamolard 2007). In addition, intrinsic factors such as limited dispersal and low genetic variability may affect the population (Ghestemme and Salamolard 2007). Since the remaining population seems unable to colonise new areas, habitat changes, such as degradation by the invasion of exotic vegetation or forest fires, could be catastrophic (Probst 1996, Thiollay and Probst 1999). Construction of roads and hotels for tourism were thought to be potential problems (V. Bretagnolle and C. Attié in litt. 1993) but there are currently no such projects within the breeding range of the species nor in its vicinity (M. Le Corre in litt. 2000). Nests are also vulnerable to adverse weather conditions (Barré et al. 1996, Thiollay and Probst 1999), and, having a montane distribution that is close to the maximum altitude within its range, this species is potentially susceptible to climate change (BirdLife International unpublished data).

Conservation and Research Actions Underway
In 1999, the 38 km2 reserve of Roche Ecrite was established, incorporating 95% of the current range of C. newtoni (Salamolard and Ghestemme 2004). Habitat management involves a logging ban, control of exotic plants, fire breaks, better control of hunting, curbing of tourism (Thiollay and Probst 1999), and action to reduce deer numbers (Le Corre and Safford 2001). Maturing plantations of Cryptomeria are being progressively replaced with native Acacia (Thiollay and Probst 1999). In 2006, an awareness campaign to reduce littering and promote recycling had been planned (T. Ghestemme in litt. 2006). In 2004, a species action plan was published with the aim of reversing the trend towards extinction by increasing the numbers of females in the population, eventually doubling the number of females over the course of 10 years and achieving a viable population of 125 pairs (Salamolard and Ghestemme 2004). Experimental rat and cat control was initiated in the Roche Ecrite reserve prior to the 2005-2006 breeding season (Ghestemme 2005b), through the setting of poisoned baits, accompanied by the trapping of rats and cats to monitor their populations (T. Ghestemme in litt. 2006). In the 2005-2006 breeding season, four out of five pairs in sites with predator control raised young, compared with two out of six pairs in uncontrolled sites (T. Ghestemme in litt. 2006). The control programme was carried out at 11 nest sites during the 2006-2007 breeding season; however three females disappeared, and six out of the eight remaining pairs produced young (T. Ghestemme in litt. 2007, 2008). In 2007, the total number of young fledged increased to 22, with a breeding success of 91% at sites with predator control (compared to around 30% at those without) (T. Ghestemme in litt. 2007, 2008). In 2010, predator control measures by Société d'Etudes Ornithologiques de La Réunion (SEOR), with some support from the BirdLife Preventing Extinctions Programme, were on-going (D. Fouillot in litt. 2010). A revised species action plan for 2012-2016 was being finalised in 2012 (A. Cheke in litt. 2012).

Conservation and Research Actions Proposed
Thoroughly research the ecology of this species. Continue habitat management. Continue and expand predator control by protecting nests from rats using poisoned baits and metallic bands around tree trunks. Control rats, cats and deer (Salamolard and Ghestemme 2004). Assess the conditions needed for successful establishment of a new population. Consider experimental translocation to a suitable lowland site such as Marelongue Nature Reserve (Thiollay and Probst 1999), as well as other areas suspected to have been formerly occupied by the species (Salamolard and Ghestemme 2004). Ensure that the action plans for the nature reserve and conservation of the species are consistent and compatible (Salamolard and Ghestemme 2004). Study the species's genetics and demography (Salamolard and Ghestemme 2004, Ghestemme and Salamolard 2007) and establish captive-breeding populations for future supplementation/reintroductions. Following actions all proposed by Salamolard and Ghestemme (2004): Combat poaching, in part through education campaigns. Prevent actions by people that exacerbate the predator problem, including the dropping of litter, through awareness campaigns. Protect additional habitat both presently and potentially occupied by the species. Carry out research into the threat of disease. Consider supplementary feeding trials. Control invasive plants. Restore burnt areas. Take measures to reduce disturbance.

Barré, N.; Barau, A.; Jouanin, C. 1996. Oiseaux de la Réunion. Les Éditions du Pacifique, Paris.

Collar, N. J.; Butchart, S. H. M. 2013. Conservation breeding and avian diversity: chances and challenges. International Zoo Yearbook.

Ghestemme, T. 2005. Conservation de l'Echenuilleur: les résultats encourageants du contrôle des prédateurs. Le Chakouat 15: 2-3.

Ghestemme, T. 2005. Saison de reproduction 2004 du Tuit tuit: mauvaises nouvelles pour cette espèce menacée. Le Chakouat 14: 4-5.

Ghestemme, T.; Salamolard, M. 2007. L'échenilleur de La Réunion, Coracina newtoni, espèce endémique en danger. Ostrich 78(2): 255-258.

IUCN. 2015. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015-4. Available at: (Accessed: 19 November 2015).

Krumenacker, T. 2014. Der Kampf um das Überleben des Newtonraupenfängers: Tuit-Tuit in Not. Der Falke 61(8): 12-14.

Le Corre, M.; Safford, R. J. 2001. La Réunion and Iles Eparses. In: Fishpool, L.D.C.; Evans, M.I. (ed.), Important Bird Areas of Africa and associated islands: Priority sites for conservation, pp. 693-702. Pisces Publications and BirdLife International (BirdLife Conservation Series No.11), Newbury and Cambridge, UK.

Morgan, W. G.; Kershaw, M. 1990. The Oxford Réunion Island Expedition 1990. Réunion Cuckoo-shrike Coracina newtoni determination of the population size and distribution limits.

Poudroux, D. undated. Le tuit-tuit menacé par les rats.

Probst, J.-M. 1996. Le Tuit Tuit de la Réunion. L'Oiseau Magazine 44: 33-35.

Salamolard, M.; Ghestemme, T. 2004. Plan de conservation de l'Echenilleur de La Réunion (Coracina newtoni). Société d'Etudes Ornithologiques de La Réunion.

SEOR. 2012. Plan national d'Actions Echenilleur de La Réunion, Coracina newtoni (draft).

Thiollay, J.-M.; Probst, J. M. 1999. Ecology and conservation of a small insular bird population, the Réunion Cuckoo-shrike Coracina newtoni. Biological Conservation 87: 191-200.

Further web sources of information
Alliance for Zero Extinction (AZE) species/site profile. This species has been identified as an AZE trigger due to its IUCN Red List status and limited range.

Click here for more information about the Alliance for Zero Extinction (AZE)

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

Species Guardian Action Update

Text account compilers
Ekstrom, J., Pilgrim, J., Shutes, S., Stattersfield, A., Symes, A., Taylor, J., Warren, B. & Wright, L

Attié, C., Bretagnolle, V., Ghestemme, T., Le Corre, M. & Cheke, A.

IUCN Red List evaluators
Symes, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2015) Species factsheet: Coracina newtoni. Downloaded from on 26/11/2015. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2015) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 26/11/2015.

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 - Reunion cuckooshrike (Coracina newtoni) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Critically Endangered
Family Campephagidae (Cuckoo-shrikes)
Species name author (Pollen, 1866)
Population size 50 mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 29 km2
Country endemic? Yes
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species