|Male in Khao Nor Chu Chi, Krabi, Thailand|
Gurney's pitta (Hydrornis gurneyi) is a medium-sized passerine bird. It breeds in the Malay Peninsula, with populations in Thailand and, especially, Burma. The common name and Latin binomial commemorate the British banker and amateur ornithologist John Henry Gurney (1819-1890). Its diet consists of slugs, insects, and earthworms.
The male has a blue crown and black-and-yellow underparts; the rest of the head is black, and it has warm brown upperparts. The female has a brown crown and buffy-whitish underparts.
Status and conservation
Gurney's pitta is endangered. It was initially thought to be extinct for some time after 1952, but was rediscovered in 1986. Its rarity has been caused by the clearance of natural forest in southern Burma and peninsular Thailand.
Its population was estimated at a mere nine pairs in 1997, then believed one of the rarest bird species on earth. A search for it in Burma in 2003 was successful and discovered that the species persisted at four sites with a maximum of 10-12 pairs at one location. This granted the species a reassessment from the IUCN, going from critically endangered to endangered. Later on, further research completed in Burma by 2009 provides strong evidence that its global population is much greater than previously estimated, owing to the discovery of several new territories in this country
- Beolens, Bo; Watkins, Michael (2003). Whose Bird? Men and Women Commemorated in the Common Names of Birds. London: Christopher Helm. p. 153.
- thaibirding.com: 10 Most Wanted Birds in Thailand - Number 1: Gurney's Pitta Pitta gurneyi. Retrieved 2008-MAY-23.
- BirdLife International (BLI) (2005). Pitta gurneyi. 2006. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN 2006. www.iucnredlist.org. Retrieved on 23 May 2008.
- BirdLife International (BLI) (2008): 2008 IUCN Redlist status changes. Retrieved 2008-MAY-23.
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