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Black-throated Blue Robin Luscinia obscura
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This poorly-known species qualifies as Vulnerable because it is thought to have a small population, which is inferred to be in decline as a result of on-going habitat loss and degradation.

Taxonomic source(s)
Sibley, C. G.; Monroe, B. L. 1990. Distribution and taxonomy of birds of the world. Yale University Press, New Haven, USA.

Erithacus obscurus Collar and Andrew (1988)

12.5-14.5 cm. Small, skulking robin. Male has black throat and breast and white rest of underparts, dull dark blue upperparts, white basal two-thirds to outer tail feathers and dark legs and feet. Similar spp. Male Siberian Blue Robin L. cyane has white throat and breast. Female has buffish underparts, white undertail-coverts, more buff-coloured tail and paler pinkish legs. Voice Song rather shrill phrases whr'ri-whr'ri and chu'ti-chu'ti alternated with purring trills, hdrriiii-ju'ju and uu ji'uu. Also soft, subdued tup contact notes.

Distribution and population
Luscinia obscura breeds in the mountains of western China (B. King in litt. 2012), where it was, until recently, known only from a handful of scattered records from Sichuan, Gansu and Shaanxi, together with several presumed non-breeding records from southern China and northern Thailand. A survey in 2011 reported 14 new sightings in two breeding areas in the Qinling Mountains, Shaanxi province (Davies 2011). Seven males were recorded each in Foping and Changqing national nature reserves during the study (Davies 2011). The results of the 2011 survey, as well as the paucity of records, suggests that it probably has a localised distribution and a small population. Numerous recent surveys of potentially suitable sites in southern Sichuan have failed to record this species (S. Dowell in litt. 2007).

Population justification
The population is estimated to number 2,500-9,999 mature individuals, based on an analysis of records by BirdLife International (2001), who noted that it is probably highly localised in distribution and could have a small total population, i.e. fewer than 10,000 individuals. This estimate equates to 3,750-14,999 individuals in total, rounded here to 3,500-15,000 individuals. This estimate is retained, despite the recent discovery of previously unknown breeding sites in the Qinling Mountains (Davies 2011) and presence of vast areas of similar habitat (P. Alström in litt. 2012), as the species still appears to be scarce and localised, and there remains no substantive evidence that the population exceeds 10,000 mature individuals.

Trend justification
Although much of the species's potential breeding habitat does not appear to be very threatened by logging and conversion to agriculture (P. Alström in litt. 2012), the population is precautionarily suspected to be declining at a slow to moderate rate, owing to continuing habitat loss and degradation within its breeding and presumed wintering grounds.

Its habitat requirements and altitudinal range are poorly known. In Gansu, there are historical records from bamboo thickets on the tops of ridges dividing valleys at 3,050-3,350 m. More recent records in Sichuan are from temperate zone forest. Almost all of the individuals found during the 2011 survey in Shaanxi were on mountain slopes at 2,400-2,500 m in large, dense expanses of bamboo in open coniferous and mixed coniferous-broadleaved forest (Davies 2011, P. Alström in litt. 2012). Outside the breeding season, it has been recorded at 400 m in Thailand.

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 exploitation for timber and clearance for cultivation and pasture, and substantial areas of temperate forest have been lost. Nong Bong Khai, Thailand, supported significant areas of secondary forest when the species was collected there, but the area has since been completely deforested for intensive agriculture and tourism. At the elevations and in the steep terrain where this species was found in the Qinling Mountains during the 2011 survey, there is said to be extremely little conversion of forest to agriculture, and although logging is a potential problem, very large areas are protected in this region (P. Alström in litt. 2012).

Conservation Actions Underway
CMS Appendix II. It is legally protected in Thailand. In China, a number of protected areas established for giant panda Ailuropoda melanoleuca contain suitable habitat, but the species's distribution and abundance in these areas is poorly known. It has been recorded from Jiuzhaigou and Baihe nature reserves (Sichuan) and Taibai Shan National Nature Reserve (Shaanxi). The survey in 2011 recorded seven males each in Foping and Changqing national nature reserves (Davies 2011). Conservation Actions Proposed
Survey protected areas in or near to its known range, research its population status and attempt to determine its wintering grounds. Research its habitat requirements. 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. 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.

E. Davies. 2011. Rare robin breeding sites found. BBC Nature. Available at: file:///J:/SPI/Science/6b%20Red%20List%20new%20info/Asia/Luscinia%20obscura%20BBC%20Dec11.htm. (Accessed: 02/03/2012).

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., Khwaja, N. & Taylor, J.

Dowell, S., King, B. & Alstrom, P.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Luscinia obscura. Downloaded from on 22/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 22/10/2016.

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.

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Vulnerable
Family Muscicapidae (Chats and Old World flycatchers)
Species name author (Berezowski & Bianchi, 1891)
Population size 2500-9999 mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 59,300 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species