Luzon water-redstart (Rhyacornis bicolor)

Female Luzon water-redstart
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Luzon water-redstart fact file

Luzon water-redstart description

GenusRhyacornis (1)

The Luzon water-redstart is a small, Old World flycatcher restricted to rapidly deteriorating riverine habitat in the Philippines. The male has dark, slate-blue upperparts, sullied brown on the wings, and a striking chestnut-red belly and tail. The female is similar in appearance but the feathers of the belly and tail are a less prominent rufous-brown (2). Consistent with the typically harsh call notes of most other Old World flycatchers, the Luzon water-redstart has a high-pitched shrill whistle (2) (3).

Length: 15 cm (2)

Luzon water-redstart biology

The Luzon water-redstart forages for insects amongst the rocks and boulders of river margins. Flitting rapidly from boulder to bolder, it snatches insects off the ground or whilst in flight. The nest, which is often comprised of pine needles, is constructed underneath the same rocks it forages from. Breeding typically takes place between June and August, but the sporadic appearance of young birds at other times of the year suggests the timing of the breeding season may be somewhat variable. Between two and four eggs are laid in a single nesting. During breeding, an adult pair may hold a territory of up to 500 metres along a water course. While records indicate the Luzon water redstart may wander some distance after breeding, there is no apparent seasonal migration (4).


Luzon water-redstart range

The Luzon water-redstart occurs on Luzon in the Phillipines where it was thought to be endemic before the recent discovery of 1960s records from central Mindoro. On Luzon it principally inhabits the southern Cordillera Central and the Sierra Madre Mountains (2) (4).


Luzon water-redstart habitat

Occupies the margins of rocky-sided streams and rivers above 300 metres, which are typically clear, undisturbed and fast-flowing. The marginal vegetation ranges from tropical montane forest and pine forest to scrub and scattered trees (2) (4).


Luzon water-redstart status

Classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List (1).

IUCN Red List species status – Vulnerable


Luzon water-redstart threats

The most significant threats to the Luzon water-redstart are the pollution and siltation of water courses associated with mining and logging, and the increased use of agro-chemicals. Owing to the strict ecological requirements of this species, these activities, which reduce both water quality and the abundance of prey, have a considerable negative impact on its abundance and distribution. While it is considered locally common in areas where marginal habitat is still intact, it is rare overall, and almost certainly declining as its range becomes increasingly more restricted (2) (4).


Luzon water-redstart conservation

Fortunately, the range of the Luzon water-redstart overlaps with several protected areas, such as Mt Pulog National Park and the Northern Sierra Madre Natural Park on Luzon, and Mt Iglit-Baco National Park on Mindoro. Nonetheless, it is important that other key-sites come under protection and that stricter controls are enforced on mining, logging and agricultural activities. In addition, research is required to establish further detailed information on the habitat requirements, status and distribution of this species, in order to inform future conservation plans (2) (4).

View information on this species at the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre.

Find out more

For further information on the Luzon water-redstart see:



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A species or taxonomic group that is only found in one particular country or geographic area.


  1. IUCN Red List (June, 2007)
  2. BirdLife International (October, 2008)
  3. Burnie, D. (2001) Animal. Dorling Kindersley, London.
  4. BirdLife International. (2001) Threatened Birds of Asia: the BirdLife International Red Data Book. BirdLife International, Cambridge, UK.

Image credit

Female Luzon water-redstart  
Female Luzon water-redstart

© Leif Gabrielsen

Leif Gabrielsen


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