Fast Fact Attack: Endangered Species 23 – The Cebu Flowerpecker

Cebu flowerpecker

Painting by Tomasz Cofta, from his portfolio of “The World’s Rarest Birds”

The image I have used here is a painting by the very talented artist  Tomasz Cofta  from his portfolio of  ”The World’s Rarest Birds”  which covers  ”all the species for which publishable photos could not be obtained”.   So rare is the Cebu flowerpecker,  there are no known photographs in circulation,  and it has been said that none exist.

In 2009,  the Cebu flowerpecker became the world’s icon for biodiversity,  chosen before countries such as Indonesia and Brazil,  due its IUCN listing and the fact that Cebu had practically lost all its biodiversity.

Early in the 20th century,  it was thought to be extinct  until it was surprisingly spotted again in 1992.  This discovery brought out the world’s twitchers,  none of which managed to obtain a photograph.  Since then,  no more than four have ever been seen together.

As its scientific name  (Dicaeum quadricolor)  suggests,  it is a bird of four colours.  Its head and wings are bluish black,  its underside is white,  it has a red patch on its back and a green rump.  The species is thought to breed between February and August.   After that,  very little else is known about this elusive little passerine.

Native forests and selectively logged forests which occur close to patches of native vegetation.
The island of Cebu in the Philippines.
What they eat
Mistletoe-like plants,  small ripe figs,  insects,  flower nectar,  berries and  spiders.
The notorious deforestation of Cebu since the 1890s has led to catastrophic forest clearance  (including habitat clearance for mining),  human settlement,  illegal logging, charcoal making and road construction.   It is also thought to fall prey to the bullying red-striped flowerpecker  (Dicaeum australe)  due to competition over available habitat.
Status: Critically Endangered
The Cebu flowerpecker is listed on the  IUCN Red List   as critically endangered.  Their numbers are thought to be fewer than 100.   Much is being done to try and alter this fact and conservation initiatives have been put into action.    These include; controlling encroachment by appointing rangers to patrol the appropriate areas,   expanded tree planting to increase forest acreage and  awareness being raised within the local community.   Various research projects into the ecology of the species have also being undertaken.

“What we are doing to the forests of the world is but a mirror reflection of what we are doing to ourselves and to one another”
Mahatma Gandhi


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