Jump to content

Gurney's pitta

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Gurney's pitta
Male in Khao Nor Chu Chi, Krabi, Thailand
CITES Appendix I (CITES)
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Pittidae
Genus: Hydrornis
H. gurneyi
Binomial name
Hydrornis gurneyi
(Hume, 1875)
  • Pitta gurneyi

Gurney's pitta (Hydrornis gurneyi) (Thai: นกแต้วแร้วท้องดำ) is a medium-sized passerine bird. It breeds in the Malay Peninsula, with populations mainly in Myanmar. 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.



Gurney's pitta was described by the amateur ornithologist Allan Octavian Hume in 1875 and given the binomial name Pitta gurneyi.[2] The species was moved to the resurrected genus Hydrornis based on the results of a molecular phylogenetic study published in 2006.[3] The genus Hydrornis had been introduced by the English zoologist Edward Blyth in 1843.[4] The specific epithet was chosen to honour the amateur ornithologist John Henry Gurney (1819-1890).[2][5]



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.[6] 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[7][8]

The pitta was voted the "most wanted bird in Thailand" by bird watchers visiting that country.[9]

A study conducted in 2016, led by scientist Nay Myo Shwe, visited 142 sites the pitta has been previously observed in Myanmar; it was only in 41 that any trace of the bird was found.[10] It was estimated that more than 80% of the bird's habitat was lost from 1999-2017, due to palm oil plantations; the IUCN subsequently re-assessed the species status as critically endangered. [10] The pitta is considered functionally extinct in Thailand.[11]

Female in Khao Nor Chu Chi, Krabi, Thailand


  1. ^ BirdLife International (2019). "Hydrornis gurneyi". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2019: e.T22698628A157110021. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2019-3.RLTS.T22698628A157110021.en. Retrieved 12 November 2021.
  2. ^ a b Hume, A.O. (1875). "Novelties: Pitta gurneyi". Stray Feathers. 3 (4): 296–298.
  3. ^ Irestedt, M.; Ohlson, J.I.; Zuccon, D.; Källersjö, M.; Ericson, P.G.P. (2006). "Nuclear DNA from old collections of avian study skins reveals the evolutionary history of the Old World suboscines (Aves: Passeriformes)" (PDF). Zoologica Scripta. 35 (6): 567–580. doi:10.1111/j.1463-6409.2006.00249.x. S2CID 84788609. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2020-02-23. Retrieved 2019-01-15.
  4. ^ Blyth, Edward (1843). "Mr Blyth's report for December meeting, 1842, with Addenda subsequently appended". Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal. 12 (143): 925–1010 [960].
  5. ^ Jobling, J.A. (2018). del Hoyo, J.; Elliott, A.; Sargatal, J.; Christie, D.A.; de Juana, E. (eds.). "Key to Scientific Names in Ornithology". Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions. Retrieved 15 January 2019.
  6. ^ Eames, Jonathan C.; Hla, Htin; Leimgruber, Peter; Kelly, Daniel S.; Aung, Sein Myo; Moses, Saw; Tin, U. Saw Nyunt; Tinun, Pinyo; Aung, Sein Myo; Zaw, Sa Myo; Buchanan, Graeme M. (2005). "Priority contribution. The rediscovery of Gurney's Pitta Pitta gurneyi in Myanmar and an estimate of its population size based on remaining forest cover". Bird Conservation International. 15 (1): 3–26. doi:10.1017/S095927090500002X. ISSN 1474-0001.
  7. ^ "Global population of Gurney's Pitta far greater than previously estimated". www.birdlife.org. Archived from the original on 2009-10-22.
  8. ^ Donald, Paul F.; Aratrakorn, Sirirak; Htun, Thura Win; Eames, Jonathan C.; Hla, Htin; Thunhikorn, Somying; Sribua-Rod, Kriangsak; Tinun, Pinyo; Aung, Sein Myo; Zaw, Sa Myo; Buchanan, Graeme M. (2009). "Population, distribution, habitat use and breeding of Gurney's Pitta Pitta gurneyi in Myanmar and Thailand". Bird Conservation International. 19 (4): 353–366. doi:10.1017/S0959270909008612. ISSN 1474-0001.
  9. ^ thaibirding.com: 10 Most Wanted Birds in Thailand - Number 1: Gurney's Pitta Pitta gurneyi. Retrieved 2008-MAY-23.
  10. ^ a b "'Rediscovered' after 100 years, Gurney's pitta is in peril once again". Mongabay Environmental News. 2020-01-02. Retrieved 2024-01-25.
  11. ^ "Gurney's Pitta - eBird". ebird.org. Retrieved 2024-01-25.