This poorly known species has been uplisted from Vulnerable owing to evidence that its population is smaller than previously thought. It is now listed as Endangered on the basis that it has a very small population, which is thought to be declining as a result of habitat loss and degradation.
Sibley, C. G.; Monroe, B. L. 1990. Distribution and taxonomy of birds of the world. Yale University Press, New Haven, USA.
Erithacus ruficeps Collar and Andrew (1988)
Distribution and populationLuscinia ruficeps
15 cm. Small robin with orange-rufous head, black face and black-bordered white throat. Grey upperparts, upper breast and flanks, white rest of underparts, blackish tail with rufous fringes and blackish tips to outer feathers. Similar spp. Female Siberian Blue Robin L. cyane has blue on rump to uppertail, lacks warmer brown edges to outer tail feathers, has more buff breast and flanks, and less heavily scaled throat. Voice Song with well-spaced, powerful, rich phrases ti CHO CHUK'UK'UK ti TCH-WR'RR'RR ti CHI-WRU-W'R'R'R'R ti CHR'R'R'R ti CHR'RIU'IU'IU. Call deepish tuc or toc and soft, thin si.
is known from four confirmed or probable breeding sites in north-central Sichuan and southern Shaanxi, south-western China
, although there are recent records from only one of these. In Jiuzhaigou National Park, six singing males were heard along 3-4 km of the valley near Nuorilong in 1991, and four singing males and two females were seen along c.400 m of trail in the valley above "Pearl Shoal waterfall" in June 1995. It has been recorded once on passage in central Phnom Penh, Cambodia
(Mahood et al
. 2013, S. Mahood in litt
. 2013) and in winter in Peninsular Malaysia
. The paucity of records suggests that it probably has a localised distribution and a very small population. At the only breeding site with recent records, the species shows restricted habitat use in a narrow elevation range, which if assumed to be representative of the species's ecology suggests that across its entire potential range it may not exceed 2,500 mature individuals.Population justification
This species's population was previously estimated to number 2,500-9,999 mature individuals, based on an analysis of records by BirdLife International (2001), who noted that it can occur at high densities in suitable habitat, but that the paucity of records suggests that it is probably highly localised in distribution and could have a small total population. However, evidence indicates that the population is likely to be smaller than this. There are recent breeding records from only one site, where it is restricted to a specific habitat type within a narrow elevation range. The population estimate is thus placed in the band for 1,000-2,499 mature individuals, roughly equivalent to 1,500-3,800 individuals in total. All mature individuals are precautionarily assumed to form one subpopulation.Trend justification
A moderate and on-going population decline is suspected, owing to habitat loss and degradation within the species's range.Ecology
In its breeding range, it occurs in areas of temperate mixed coniferous and deciduous forest and scrub, particularly associated with narrow river valleys at 2,400-2,800 m, where it appears to be specialised to areas of successional scrub in valley bottoms which develop following flash-floods. The single winter record is from ericaceous scrub at 2,030 m. Threats
The main threat is likely to be the loss and fragmentation of forest. Forest cover has declined rapidly in Sichuan since the late 1960s, through timber production and conversion to cultivation and pasture, and it is assumed that substantial areas of temperate forest have been lost. In one of the valleys where it was recently recorded in Jiuzhaigou Nature Reserve, limited cutting and lopping of wood had occurred, and in two valleys flood-control dams have been constructed. Dam construction may be negatively affecting successional habitats utilised during the breeding season, as exemplified by one area of the known breeding site, where the species has disappeared or become scarce following the flooding of suitable habitat after dam construction (J. Eaton in litt
. 2013). Habitat degradation caused through over-grazing by livestock is a further threat in its breeding range (J. Eaton in litt
. 2013, S. Mahood in litt
. 2013). If it winters in primary lowland forest in the Sundaic region, it is likely to experience intense pressures from habitat loss in that part of its range. Conservation Actions Underway
CMS Appendix II. A number of protected areas established for giant panda Ailuropoda melanoleuca
contain suitable habitat, but this species's distribution and abundance in these areas is poorly known. It has been recorded from Jiuzhaigou Nature Reserve and Wanglang Nature Reserve, Sichuan, and Taibai Shan National Nature Reserve in Shaanxi.Conservation Actions Proposed
Survey protected areas in or near to its known range, and seek to determine its winter range. Research its habitat requirements, altitudinal range and population status and in particular determine its utilisation of successional habitats and modified forest, as well as habitat requirements in wintering grounds. Strengthen protection and link, where possible, protected areas where it occurs and where new populations are discovered. Support recommendations to control logging and fire and restore damaged giant panda habitat where this would benefit this species and other endemic temperate forest bird species. Control tourism in Jiuzhaigou Nature Reserve. List it as a protected species in China.
BirdLife International. 2001. Threatened birds of Asia: the BirdLife International Red Data Book. BirdLife International, Cambridge, U.K.
Mahood, S.; Eaton, J. A.; Leader, P. J. 2013. Second record of Rufous-headed Robin Luscinia ruficeps outside its breeding range and a description of its first-winter plumage. BirdingASIA 19: 43-47.
Further web sources of information
Detailed species accounts from the Threatened birds of Asia: the BirdLife International Red Data Book (BirdLife International 2001).
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., Derhé, M., Gilroy, J. & Taylor, J.
Hornskov, J., Mahood, S. & Eaton, J.
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Luscinia ruficeps. Downloaded from
http://www.birdlife.org on 27/05/2016.
Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from
http://www.birdlife.org on 27/05/2016.
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.