Working for birds in Africa

Distribution and population size of Chapin’s Flycatcher Muscicapa lendu in Kakamega Forest, Kenya.

p 162-166

Among the most threatened species of Kenya's remaining rainforest is Chapin's Flycatcher Muscicapa lendu, a species currently listed as Vulnerable by BirdLife International (2000, 2004). Between November 2002 and February 2003, we studied its distribution and population status in Kakamega Forest, Kenya. The species was searched for along 125 transects of 500 x 40 m in five forest fragments. Seventeen birds (13 singles and two pairs) were sighted in three fragments, Isecheno, Ikuywa and Buyangu, but we failed to find it in Yala Nature Reserve and Kisere National Reserve. Population density was estimated at c. 1 bird per 20 ha, and the overall population estimated at c.200 birds. Flycatchers were recorded perching at 12—22 m, mostly on bare branches of tall indigenous trees with mean canopy height of 27 m and mean canopy cover of 32%. Habitat loss, particularly through forest fragmentation, is possibly the main cause of the small population size. That forest fragments are distant from each other could make the species vulnerable to genetic or demographic disasters. We recommend improved forest management practises to ensure retention of tall indigenous trees, and connecting forest patches via corridors of planted indigenous trees. Further studies are required in order to understand this species' ecology and formulate appropriate conservation measures.

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