Initial deadline for comments: 31 January 2012 [note that this has been moved back by about two months].
Blue-moustached Bee-eater Merops mentalis was first recognised as a species distinct from Blue-headed Bee-eater M. muelleri by BirdLife in the 2011 Red List update, when it was listed as Least Concern on the basis that it was not thought to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under any of the IUCN criteria. It is found in West Africa, occurring in Sierra Leone, south-eastern Guinea, Liberia, Côte d’Ivoire, southern Ghana, southern Nigeria and western Cameroon (Borrow and Demey 2001, 2004).
This species has a very large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence of less than 20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline was not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (at least a 30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size has not been quantified, but it is not believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (fewer than 10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be at least a 10% over ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure).
The species appears to show some dependence on mature forest, being observed in clearings and along the edges of primary forest and old secondary forest (Borrow and Demey 2001, del Hoyo et al. 2001), although it may also feed over tilled land where a few dead trees remain standing (del Hoyo et al. 2001). It occurs in a region known for rapid and on-going deforestation, raising the question of whether it qualifies for a higher threat category under the A criterion. Remaining large tracts of forest in Liberia are under intense and increasing pressure from commercial logging and a consequent increase in settlement and small-holder agriculture (Anon. 2000). Elsewhere in the Upper Guinea region, forest survives in fragmented patches which are under intense pressure for logging and conversion to agriculture (Anon. 2000). In addition, the species occurs at relatively low densities and is rarely recorded (H. Rainey in litt.).
Further information on the species’s status is requested, in particular data and observations regarding the severity of potential threats such as the drivers of deforestation within its range.
Anon. (2000) Restarting Nature Conservation in Liberia. Fauna & Flora News 12: 1-2.
Borrow, N. and Demey, R. (2001) Birds of western Africa. London, UK: Christopher Helm.
Borrow, N. and Demey, R. (2004) Field guide to the birds of western Africa. London, UK: Christopher Helm.
del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A. and Sargatal, J. (2001) Handbook of the birds of the world, Vol 6: Mousebirds to Hornbills. Barcelona, Spain: Lynx Edicions.