The rufous scrubbird (Atrichornis rufescens) is a bird species in the family Atrichornithidae. It is endemic to Australia. Two subspecies are recognized: the nominate A. r. rufescens, and A. r. ferrieri.
Both sexes are brown with a rufous breast and a lightly barred back. The male has a long white streak on both sides on his neck and noticeable white edging on his throat. The female has a lighter breast and lacks the white edging.
Distribution and habitat
The species occurs only in isolated locations in north-eastern New South Wales and south-eastern Queensland. It requires dense ground cover and deep leaf-litter in rainforest and wet eucalypt forest, at elevations above 600 m, where it forages on snails and insects on the ground.
By the mid-20th century, it was almost extinct. A subsequent recovery to Near Threatened status in 2004 was followed by successive uplisting to Vulnerable and Endangered status in 2008 and 2012 respectively, in consideration of the fragmented status and small size of remaining habitats. Total population size was estimated at a low of ~2,500 pairs in the 1980s, but is currently estimated at around 12,000 pairs.
Most of the early decline is believed to have been driven by the clearance of the species' lowland habitats, and logging practices are implicated in current declines, together with natural aging (and consequent disappearance of understorey) of remaining eucalypt stands.
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