Philippine leafbird (Chloropsis flavipennis)

GenusChloropsis (1)
SizeLength: 18.8 - 19 cm (2)

The Philippine leafbird is classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List (1).

With its bright green plumage, the Philippine leafbird (Chloropsis flavipennis) is well-camouflaged against the green canopy of its forest habitat. This small songbird is green all over except for the yellow rings that surround the eyes, a streak of yellow on the throat, and the yellow edges to the primary feathers, which form a yellow line when the wing is closed (3) (4). The Philippine leafbird has a dark, slender bill and dark olive-grey legs (4).

Unlike other leafbirds, the male and female Philippine leafbird are similar in appearance (2).

Vocalisations of the Philippine leafbird include loud whistles, such as a ‘chick-weeeep’ and ‘chick-ur-treet’ (2) (4).

Endemic to the Philippines, this leafbird has historically been observed on the islands of Samar, Leyte, Cebu and Mindanao (2). However, the Philippine leafbird is now presumed extinct on Cebu, as it has not been recorded on the island since 1920 (5), and its current status is unknown on Leyte and Samar (3).

The Philippine leafbird inhabits lowland evergreen primary forest, but may also be seen in secondary forest and degraded habitats,typically below 1,000 metres above sea level(2) (3). It is often observed in the leafy tops of tall trees (4) (6).

Little is known about the Philippine leafbird. It is reported to breed in June and August (2), but its nest and eggs have not been recorded (4).

Although there is no information on the diet of the Philippine leafbird (6), leafbirds typically feed on spiders and insects, which are plucked from surfaces or pursued in flight (2).

The Philippine leafbird is threatened by the widespread and continuing destruction of its habitat (3). A mere three percent of primary forest is estimated to remain in the Philippine lowlands, as large areas of forest have been cleared for timber, mining, and conversion to agriculture and plantations of exotic trees for paper production (6) (7). This devastating habitat loss is believed to be the reason behind the Philippine leafbird’s presumed extinction on the island of Cebu (3).  

The Philippine leafbird has not been recorded in any protected area since 1966 (3), and with the population continuing to decline, greater measures are needed to conserve this endangered species (3). Remaining lowland forest areas on Samar, Leyte and Mindanao need to be surveyed to identify key sites for the Philippine leafbird, which should then be established as protected areas (3). 

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  1. IUCN Red List (November, 2010)
  2. del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A. and Sargatal, J. (2005) Handbook of the Birds of the World. Volume 10: Cuckoo-Shrikes to Thrushes. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.
  3. BirdLife International (November, 2010)
  4. Kennedy, R.S., Gonzales, P.C., Dickinson, E.C., Miranda Jr, H.C. and Fisher, T.H. (2000) A Guide to the Birds of the Philippines. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
  5. Rabor, D.S. (1959) The impact of deforestation on birds of Cebu, Philippines. The Auk, 78(1): 37-43.
  6. BirdLife International. (2001) Threatened Birds of Asia: the BirdLife International Red Data Book. BirdLife International, Cambridge, UK.
  7. Mittermeier, R.A., Robles-Gil, P., Hoffmann, M., Pilgrim, J.D., Brooks, T.M., Mittermeier, C.G., Lamoreux, J.L. and Fonseca, G. (2004) Hotspots Revisited: Earth's Biologically Richest and Most Endangered Ecoregions. Cemex, Mexico City.