Schneider’s pitta (Pitta schneideri)

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Schneider's pitta
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Schneider’s pitta fact file

Schneider’s pitta description

KingdomAnimalia
PhylumChordata
ClassAves
OrderPasseriformes
FamilyPittidae
GenusPitta (1)

Schneider’s pitta, which was once feared extinct (2), belongs to a family of secretive, stumpy-looking birds known for their acute sense of smell (3). Male and female Schneider’s pittas differ quite substantially in their appearance, with males being the more attractive sex. The top of the head and nape of the male is bright chestnut-orange, which contrasts with the prominent black eyestripe and the brilliant ultramarine blue plumage on the upperparts and tail. The wings are brown and the underparts are orangey-buff, and a black band across the breast varies in appearance amongst individuals. The eyes of Schneider’s pitta are red-brown to brown, the bill is dark brown and a touch of white highlights the chin and throat. Females are overall duller in appearance than males, with brown plumage on the upperparts and the glossy blue restricted to just the rump and tail (2). Seldom seen, the Schneider’s pitta may be better detected by its low, soft, lingering whistle that consists of two notes: the first rising, the second falling (2).

Size
Length: 21 – 23 cm (2)
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Schneider’s pitta biology

This elusive, ground-dwelling bird is known to feed on large cockroaches and large snails, which it uncovers as it forages on the forest floor, energetically turning over fallen leaves with its bill. It is also reported to consume some vegetable matter and has been observed with what looked like a millipede (2) (5).

A monogamous species, Schneider’s pitta is generally spotted in pairs (5). The sighting of juveniles between March and July has led to the conclusion that breeding may take place between February and June (2).

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Schneider’s pitta range

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Schneider’s pitta habitat

Schneider’s pitta inhabits primary and selectively logged forest, where it is found on the forest floor and in dense undergrowth (2) (4). It used to be found between elevations of 900 and 1,400 metres, but more recently Schneider’s pitta has been found from 1,700 to 2,400 metres (2).

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Schneider’s pitta status

Classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List 2007 (1).

IUCN Red List species status – Vulnerable

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Schneider’s pitta threats

Once common at a number of localities in Sumatra, Schneider’s pitta was not sighted for over 50 years until a male and female were discovered on Mount Kerinci in 1988, shortly followed by several subsequent reports from other locations (2). Today, Schneider’s pitta occurs at much higher altitudes than previously, as a growing human population on Sumatra has forced it to retreat to higher, and probably less suitable, habitat (2). This growing human population has also resulted in at least a third of Sumatra’s montane rainforest being lost to agriculture and logging, even affecting so-called protected areas (4). Slash-and-burn agriculture and logging continue to pose the greatest threat to this species, but hunting with air-rifles and snares set for mammals and larger birds (2) (4), may also pose a threat to this pitta’s continued existence.

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Schneider’s pitta conservation

While Schneider’s pitta has been recorded from protected areas, such as Kerinci-Seblat National Park, populations within these areas are still threatened by man’s use of air-rifles and snares and the illegal encroachment of agriculture (2) (4). Most of the protected areas within the region inhabited by this species unfortunately lack sufficient management (4). Ensuring effective protection for these areas is clearly needed if the Schneider’s pitta is to survive, in addition to promoting a conservation awareness campaign in the region, aimed at reducing forest loss caused by shifting agriculture (4).

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

For further information on Schneider’s pitta see:

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Authentication

This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact:
arkive@wildscreen.org.uk

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Glossary

Monogamous
Having only one mate during a breeding season, or throughout the breeding life of a pair.
Primary
Relating to forest, forest that has remained undisturbed for a long time and has reached a mature condition.
Slash-and-burn
The cutting and burning of forests or woodlands to create space for agriculture or livestock.
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References

  1. IUCN Red List (April, 2008)
    http://www.iucnredlist.org
  2. del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A. and Sargatal, J. (2003) Handbook of the Birds of the World. Vol. 8: Broadbills to Tapaculos. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.
  3. Burnie, D. (2001) Animal. Dorling Kindersley, London.
  4. BirdLife International (April, 2008)
    http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/sites/index.html?action=SpcHTMDetails.asp&sid=3998&m=0
  5. BirdLife International. (2001) Threatened Birds of Asia: the BirdLife International Red Data Book. BirdLife International, Cambridge, UK.
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Image credit

Schneider's pitta  
Schneider's pitta

© Jon Hornbuckle

Jon Hornbuckle
jonhornbuckle@yahoo.com

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