Black-throated Blue Robin Luscinia obscura breeds in the mountains of western China (B. King in litt. 2012). It is currently listed as Vulnerable under criterion C2a(i) on the basis that it was thought to have a small population (estimated to number 2,500-9,999 mature individuals), declining as a result of destruction of temperate forests within its breeding grounds.
Until recently, it was 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 (P. Alstrom in litt. 2012); effectively doubling the total number for this species since its first rediscovery 125 years ago (Davies 2011). Although the sightings were in a small area, there are said to be vast areas of similar habitat in the Qinling Mountains and the population is assumed to be relatively safe (P. Alstrom in litt. 2012). At the elevation (c. 2400–2500m) and steep terrain where this species occurs, there is apparently little conversion of forest to agriculture (P. Alstrom in litt. 2012) and although logging is a potential problem, very large areas are protected in the Qinling Mountains (mainly because of Giant Pandas)( P. Alstrom in litt. 2012). Given these recent findings, and with no indication that the population is in decline, this species may not be as rare as previously thought.
If this information is confirmed, and this species’s population is no longer thought to number fewer than 10,000 mature individuals and is not in decline, this species would warrant downlisting to Near Threatened, approaching Vulnerable under criterion C2a(i) of the IUCN Red List, or even Least Concern.
Further information is requested on this species’s likely population size, trends and distribution. Additional comments on this proposed downlisting are welcome.
Davies, E. (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.
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