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Usambara Hyliota Hyliota usambara
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While there are still relatively few records of this species, it clearly has a very small and fragmented area of occupancy, within which it is rare. It appears largely restricted to lowland and foothill forest which is disappearing fast, and it is probably sensitive to alteration of its forest habitat. It is therefore considered Endangered.

Taxonomic source(s)
Erard, C.; Fry, C. H.; Grimes, L. G.; Irwin, M. P. S.; Keith, S.; Lack, P. C.; Pearson, D. J.; Tye, A. 1997. Sylviidae, Old World warblers. In: Urban, E.K.; Fry, C.H.; Keith, S. (ed.), The birds of Africa v. 5, pp. 57-431. Academic Press, San Diego, London.

Taxonomic note
Hyliota australis (Sibley and Monroe 1990, 1993) has been split into H. australis and H. usambara following Erard et al. (1997), largely on the basis of it sexual monomorphism in H. usambara (actually a mistaken judgement). However, examination of museum material indicates that, compared with australis, usambarae is considerably smaller, with wholly (vs partly) black thighs, female upperparts steely blue-black (vs dull sooty-black), female underparts, lores, frons and ear-coverts rich tawny (vs pale creamy-yellow below, with lores, frons and ear-coverts concolorous with rest of upperparts). These differences are sufficient for usambarae to achieve species status.

14 cm. Medium-sized, flycatcher-like warbler of forest and woodland. Glossy blue-black upperparts. Prominent white flash on wings. Orange throat and breast, fading to yellow on belly and vent. Voice Rarely calls (Evans 1997b): series of thin, squeaky notes. Hints Most recently seen in forest at Amani in East Usambara Mountains (Tanzania).

Distribution and population
Hyliota usambara is a little known and probably overlooked species of north-east Tanzania (Cambridge-Tanzania Rainforest Project 1994, Urban et al. 1997, Evans 1997b, Seddon et al. 1999b) recorded mainly from the foothills of the East Usambara Mountains, where it appears to be uncommon, and from a single sighting at Dindira in the West Usambaras (Urban et al. 1997, S. Stuart in litt. 2003) at 1,000 m. There is one other reference to a specimen taken between 1904 and 1907 along the Ruvu river, although this is now thought to refer to H. flavigaster (Sclater and Moreau 1933, Urban et al. 1997, L. Hansen in litt. 2006) but at present insufficient information is available to determine the exact localities or altitudes referred to. Given that there is only c.370 km2 of forest remaining in its stronghold of the East Usambaras, and that the species apparently occurs very patchily within forest, preferring the lowlands, both its Area of Occupancy and total population are probably very small.

Population justification
The population is estimated to number 1,000-2,499 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 667-1,666 mature individuals, rounded here to 600-1,700 mature individuals.

Trend justification
The species is suspected to be declining at a moderate rate, owing to small-scale logging and clearance for agriculture.

The species inhabits forest canopy, forest edge and coffee plantations at mid-altitudes (Urban et al. 1997). It is flycatcher-like in habits, flycatching and gleaning inconspicuously in the crowns of the tallest trees, often in trees bare of leaves, keeping to small branches and twigs and feeding on insects (Evans 1997b). It is found alone, in pairs or in mixed-species flocks (Cambridge-Tanzania Rainforest Project 1994). Its breeding ecology is unknown (Urban et al. 1997). Although recorded in plantations, it is probably dependent on mature forest for successful breeding. Given that it appears to be associated with the canopy of mature trees, it may well be highly sensitive to habitat alteration (Seddon et al. 1999b).

The main threats to forest in the East Usambaras are pit-sawing (outside reserves), and cultivation and pole-cutting (within reserves) (Evans 1997b, Kessy 1998). All are likely to increase in the near future (Seddon et al. 1999a). Lowland and foothill forest faces much greater and more immediate threats than the comparatively safe submontane and montane forest of the Usambaras.

Conservation Actions Underway
Two current projects in the East Usambaras are working to increase the amount of forest, including all lowland remnants, in protected areas. However, the high population density and demand for land and timber in the area makes this difficult (Kessy 1998). Conservation Actions Proposed
Further investigate the validity of this taxon (should include surveys using canopy mist-netting at Kisiwani) (Evans 1997b). Investigate the species's habitat and altitudinal preferences. Study the species's tolerance to habitat alteration. Survey its population density. Improve the protection of reserves to prevent forest degradation within their borders. Increase the area of suitable habitat that has protected status.

Cambridge-Tanzania Rainforest Project. 1994. A biological and human impact survey of the lowland forests, East Usambara Mountains, Tanzania. BirdLife International, Cambridge, U.K.

Evans, T. D. 1997. Records of birds from the forests of the East Usambara lowlands, Tanzania, August 1994 - February 1995. Scopus 19: 92-108.

Kessy, J. F. 1998. Conservation and utilization of natural resources in the East Usambara forest reserves: conventional views and local perspectives. Wageningen Agricultural University, Wageningen, Netherlands.

Sclater, W. L., Moreau, R. E. 1932–1933. Taxonomic field notes on some birds of north-eastern Tanganyika Territory. Ibis.

Seddon, N.; Ekstrom, J. M. M.; Capper, D. R.; Isherwood, I. S.; Muna, R.; Pople, R. G.; Tarimo, E.; Timothy, J. 1999. Notes on the ecology and conservation status of key bird species in Nilo and Nguu North Forest Reserves, Tanzania. Bird Conservation International 9: 9-28.

Seddon, N.; Ekstrom, J. M. M.; Capper, D. R.; Isherwood, I. S.; Muna, R.; Pople, R. G.; Tarimo, E.; Timothy, J. 1999. The importance of the Nilo and Nguu North Forest Reserves for the conservation of montane forest birds in Tanzania. Biological Conservation 87: 59-72.

Sibley, C. G.; Monroe, B. L. 1993. A supplement to 'Distribution and taxonomy of birds of the world'. Yale University Press, New Haven, USA.

Urban, E. K.; Fry, C. H.; Keith, S. 1997. The birds of Africa vol. V. Academic Press, London.

Zimmerman, D. A.; Turner, D. A.; Pearson, D. J. 1996. Birds of Kenya and northern Tanzania. Helm, London.

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

Text account compilers
Benstead, P., Ekstrom, J., Evans, M., Mahood, S., Shutes, S., Starkey, M. & Symes, A.

Cordeiro, N., Hansen, L. & Stuart, S.

IUCN Red List evaluators
Butchart, S., Taylor, J.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2014) Species factsheet: Hyliota usambara. Downloaded from on 30/07/2014. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2014) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 30/07/2014.

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.

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Endangered
Family Sylviidae (Old World warblers)
Species name author Sclater, 1932
Population size 600-1700 mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 7,700 km2
Country endemic? Yes
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species