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Fluffy-backed Tit-babbler Macronous ptilosus
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This species is restricted to lowland forest and some secondary growth habitats in a region in which deforestation and other forms of habitat conversion are rife. It is therefore listed as Near Threatened because its population is suspected to be undergoing a moderately rapid decline. The species's ability to persist in some disturbed habitats suggests that the rate of decline is not more rapid than this and that it does not qualify for 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.

Distribution and population
Macronous ptilosus occurs in the Sundaic lowlands, from peninsular Thailand, Sabah, Sarawak and Peninsular Malaysia, Kalimantan (including Anamba Islands) and Sumatra (including offshore islands), Indonesia and Brunei, where it is locally very common in suitable habitats. It also formerly occurred on Singapore, where it has been extinct since the early 1970s at least (D. L. Yong in litt. 2011).

Population justification
The global population size has not been quantified, but the species is described as generally scarce to fairly common (del Hoyo et al. 2007).

Trend justification
This species is suspected to be experiencing a moderately rapid population decline owing to on-going habitat loss and degradation throughout its range.

This species is found in lowland evergreen forests, including freshwater swamp forest, secondary growth and bamboo, up to 700 m. Although this species is fairly tolerant of degraded forest, being recorded at relatively high densities within selectively logged forests with luxuriant lower-storey growth and at forest edges (e.g. Edwards et al. 2011, D. L. Yong in litt. 2011), evidence from Singapore suggests that it is unable to persist in secondary forest fragments in the long term (Castelletta et al. 2000). In addition, the species is generally not found in heavily degraded and disturbed habitats such as degraded peat swamp forest (Posa 2011), plantations and scrub (Peh et al. 2006) or in highly fragmented forest (D. L. Yong in litt. 2011). In contrast to these observations, the species has been noted to be abundant in scrub located south of Similajau National Park, Sarawak, and several miles from the nearest area of forest (J. W. Duckworth in litt. 2011), perhaps indicating dispersal from optimal habitats or a higher tolerance of modified habitats locally.

Rates of forest loss in the Sundaic lowlands have been extremely rapid, owing partly to the escalation of illegal logging and land conversion, with deliberate targeting of all remaining stands of valuable timber including those inside protected areas. Forest fires have also had a damaging effect (particularly in 1997-1998). As this species persists in secondary and logged forests, it may not be under immediate threat from selective logging, but complete forest clearance (e.g. for plantations and agriculture) remains a real threat.

Conservation Actions Underway
No targeted conservation actions are known for this species, although some of its habitat is protected, e.g. in Taman Negara and Panti Forest Reserve, Peninsular Malaysia (D. L. Yong in litt. 2011).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Monitor the species's populations across its range. Monitor rates of habitat loss and degradation within the species's range. Conduct ecological studies to determine its precise habitat requirements and response to fragmentation. Improve the management of any protected areas suffering encroachment within the species's range. Increase the area of suitable habitat that has protected status. Implement measures to reduce the number and severity of forest fires.

BirdLife International. 2001. Threatened birds of Asia: the BirdLife International Red Data Book. BirdLife International, Cambridge, U.K.

Castelletta, M., Sodhi, N.S., Subaraj, R. 2000. Heavy extinctions of forest avifauna in Singapore: lessons for biodiversity conservation in Southeast Asia. Conservation Biology 14: 1870–1880.

del Hoyo, J.; Elliott, A.; Christie, D. 2007. Handbook of the Birds of the World, vol. 12: Picathartes to Tits and Chickadees. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.

Edwards, D.P., Larsen, T.H., Docherty, T.D.S., Ansell, F.A., Hsu, W.W., Derhé, M.A., Hamer, K.C., Wilcove, D.S. 2011. Degraded lands worth protecting: the biological importance of Southeast Asia’s repeatedly logged forests. Proc Biol Sci 278: 82–90.

Peh, K. S. H., Sodhi, N. S., de Jong, J., Sekercioglu, C. H., Yap, C. A. M., and Lim, S. L. H. 2006. Conservation value of degraded habitats for forest birds in southern Peninsular Malaysia. Diversity and Distributions 12(5): 572-581.

Posa, M. 2011. Peat swamp forest avifauna of Central Kalimantan, Indonesia: Effects of habitat loss and degradation. Biological Conservation 114(10): 2548-2556.

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.

Yong, D. & Duckworth, W.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Macronous ptilosus. Downloaded from on 26/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 26/10/2016.

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.

Additional resources for this species

ARKive species - Fluffy-backed tit-babbler (Macronous ptilosus) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Near Threatened
Family Timaliidae (Babblers and parrotbills)
Species name author Jardine & Selby, 1835
Population size Unknown mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 889,000 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species