Reunion cuckooshrike

Reunion cuckooshrike
Coracina newtoni

Photo by Theron Seor (Komansava)

Common name:
Reunion cuckooshrike (en); lagarteiro-da Reunião (pt); tuit-tuit (fr); oruguero de Reunión (es); Newton-raupenfänger (de)

Order Passeriformes
Family Campephagidae

This species is endemic to the island of Reunion, in the Indian ocean east of Madagascar. Within the island it is restricted to two very small areas in the north-west,  Plaine d’Affouches and Plaine des Chicots.

These birds are 20-22 cm long and weigh about 40 g.

The Reunion cuckooshrike is strictly associated with closed-canopy natural forest, occurring in mixed evergreen subtropical forest that also often includes areas of heath Philippia montana and tamarin Acacia heterophylla. Sometimes they wander into nearby plantations. They are found at altitudes of 1.000-1.800 m.

They feed on insects, but will also take some fruits from native plants.

Reunion cuckooshrikes breed in September-April. They neat in cup made of twigs and lichens bound together with spider webs. The female lays 2-3 eggs, which are incubated for 15-17 days. The chicks fledge 20-23 days after hatching.

IUCN status – CR (Critically Endangered)
This species has a very small breeding range and a global population estimated at just 50 individuals. The Reunion cuckooshrike lost most if its native habitat, being restricted to a very small area, thus being highly sensitive to any habitat changes such as degradation by the invasion of exotic vegetation or forest fires. Nest predation by introduced rats and feral cats causes poor reproductive success and there is still some problems with poaching for food. Additional threats include diseases, disturbance from recreational activities, fire, cyclones, invasive alien vegetation, potential competition with other bird species and habitat degradation caused by rusa deer Cervus timorensis rusa. Finally, having a mountainous distribution that is close to the maximum altitude within its range, this species is potentially susceptible to climate change. Conservation actions underway include protection of the remaining habitats, with a logging ban, control of exotic plants, fire breaks, better control of hunting, curbing of tourism, and action to reduce deer numbers. Rat and cat populations are also being controlled through the setting of poisoned baits, accompanied by the trapping of rats and cats to monitor their populations. 

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