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Rodrigues Fody Foudia flavicans

Justification
This species has been downlisted from Vulnerable following evidence that its population is larger than previously thought and increasing rapidly. It is listed as Near Threatened because it occupies a tiny range and remains susceptible to stochastic events and the impacts of introduced species, such that it could qualify as threatened within one or two generations.

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.

Identification
12-13 cm. Small, forest weaver. Yellow head, neck and breast, with orange at front of face. Dark brown back, wings and tail, streaked with buff. Voice Fast chip chip and deeper chuk chuk. Bold, melodious song given by both sexes. Hints Arboreal, sometimes in flocks.

Distribution and population
Foudia flavicans, having once been abundant on Rodrigues, Mauritius, declined drastically to 5-6 pairs in 1968. By April 1983, it had recovered to c.110 birds on the island's northern slopes. Populations have increased in line with the recovery and expansion of native and exotic woodland (C. Jones in litt. 2000, Safford 2001). In 1999, the population was estimated at a minimum of 334 pairs and 911 individuals (Impey 1999, 2002), and maximum of 500 pairs and 1,200 individuals (C. Jones in litt. 2000), but by 2010 the total population had risen extremely rapidly and numbered up to 8,000 individuals (C. Jones in litt. 2013). Considering uncertainties and difficulties in estimating this species's population, the total number of individuals is now estimated at 4,000-8,000 (C. Jones in litt. 2013, P. Steward in litt. 2013).


Population justification
Following a rapid increase, in 2010 the population was estimated to number a maximum of 8,000 individuals, based on the relative abundances of this species and Rodrigues Warbler Acrocephalus rodericanus (C. Jones in litt. 2010, 2013). Considering uncertainties and difficulties inherent in estimating this species's population size, the estimate is put at 4,000-8,000 individuals (C. Jones in litt. 2013, P. Steward in litt. 2013), assumed to include c.2,600-5,400 mature individuals.

Trend justification
Populations have increased in line with the recovery and expansion of native and exotic woodland (C. Jones in litt. 2000, Safford 2001). Surveys in 1999 and 2010 followed the same methods and the comparison of the estimates of 334 (1999) and 804 pairs (2010) gives an average annual growth rate of c.8% (assuming the age structure or proportion of non-breeders remained similar) (P. Steward in litt. 2013). However, it has been noted that previous surveys were conducted in the non-breeding season when the species may be only half as detectable as when breeding, and thus are likely to have underestimated numbers (C. Jones in litt. 2013). Consequently the total population size in 2010 is thought to be much larger than the 1,700 individuals estimated by Norfolk (2010). The population is still increasing as the amount of forest cover increases in area and trees increase in size (C. Jones in litt. 2013).

Ecology
It occupies most areas of mature canopy, mixed woodland taller than 5 m in height (C. Jones in litt. 2000, Safford 2001). Highest population densities are found in forest of greatest tree height, canopy cover and tree species diversity (Impey et al. 2002). It may preferentially hold territories close to areas of Norfolk Island pine Araucaria cunninghamii, showing high adaptation to some exotic vegetation (Impey 1999). It feeds on insects, spiders, nectar, seeds and some fruit (Cheke 1987d).

Threats
Forest destruction, subsistence farming and the impacts of free-ranging livestock resulted in the complete destruction of native forest such that only scattered individuals of most native trees survived (C. Jones in litt. 2000). Loss of habitat, competition with introduced Madagascar Red Fody F. madagascariensis, cyclones and a severe drought caused a huge decline in the population by the 1970s (C. Jones in litt. 2000, Safford 2001). Black rat Rattus rattus is a predator of eggs and chicks, but F. flavicans has survived alongside it for hundreds of years. Feral cats are potential predators. Competition with F. madagascariensis may be significant when food is in short supply (i.e. droughts and cyclones), and probably restricts F. flavicans to forest habitat. Habitat destruction and degradation are no longer major threats (C. Jones in litt. 2000).

Conservation Actions Underway
Habitat protection and reforestation, spurred primarily by the need for watershed protection, have been key to the recovery of this species, aided by the recent absence of catastrophic cyclones. Much reforestation has involved exotic trees, although native ecosystem rehabilitation has been started at some sites, including the two Nature Reserves, Grande Montagne and Anse Quitor (both 0.1 km2). Sites are fenced to exclude grazing animals and woodcutters, exotic plants removed and native species replanted. There has been an accompanying public awareness campaign. F. flavicans has been bred in captivity, but releases have not been needed (Safford 2001), and there are now no captive birds held (C. Jones in litt. 2000). There is also a watershed protection and reafforestation programme with exotic and native species.Conservation Actions Proposed
Habitat management to enhance populations should focus on protecting existing wooded valleys to allow forest maturation and expansion of afforested areas (Impey et al. 2002). Develop further Nature Reserves (C. Jones in litt. 2000). Instigate a long-term monitoring programme (Impey 1999, C. Jones in litt. 2000). Collect data on reproductive success (C. Jones in litt. 2000). Investigate long-term possibilities of controlling or excluding rats and cats (C. Jones in litt. 2000). Continue restoration of native forest as an enduring safeguard (Impey 1999).

References
Cheke, A. S. 1987. Observations on the surviving endemic birds of Rodrigues. In: Diamond, A.W. (ed.), Studies in Mascarene island birds, pp. 364-402. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, U.K.

Impey, A. 1999. Population census and habitat selection of Rodrigues Fody Foudia flavicans.

Impey, A. J.; Côté, I. M.; Jones, C. G. 2002. Population recovery of the threatened endemic Rodrigues fody Foudia flavicans (Aves, Ploceidae) following reforestation. Biological Conservation 107: 299-305.

Norfolk, D. 2010. Range expansion and population growth of the Vulnerable endemic Rodrigues Fody (Foudia flavicans). University of East Anglia.

Safford, R. J. 2001. Mauritius. In: Fishpool, L.D.C.; Evans, M.I. (ed.), Important Bird Areas in Africa and associated islands: Priority sites for conservation, pp. 583-596. Pisces Publications and BirdLife International (BirdLife Conservation Series No.11), Newbury and Cambridge, UK.

Further web sources of information
Explore HBW Alive for further information on this species

View photos and videos and hear sounds of this species from the Internet Bird Collection

Text account compilers
Benstead, P., Ekstrom, J., McClellan, R., Pilgrim, J., Shutes, S., Symes, A., Taylor, J. & Warren, B.

Contributors
Jones, C., Tatayah, V. & Steward, P.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2014) Species factsheet: Foudia flavicans. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 24/11/2014. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2014) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 24/11/2014.

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.

Additional resources for this species

ARKive species - Rodrigues fody (Foudia flavicans) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Near Threatened
Family Ploceidae (Weavers and allies)
Species name author Newton, 1865
Population size 2600-5400 mature individuals
Population trend Increasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 5 km2
Country endemic? Yes
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species