Long-legged Warbler

The Long-legged Warbler, Trichocichla rufa, is a small Old World warbler endemic to Fiji. The species is sometimes known as the Long-legged Thicketbird. It is the sole representative of the genus Trichocichla. A small population is known to persist on the island of Viti Levu, while the subspecies cluniei from the island of Vanua Levu has not been seen since its discovery in 1974.

The Long-legged Warbler is a large thin warbler (19cm) with a long tail and long legs. The species' plumage is reddish brown, the throat, breast and belly being white and the face being marked with a distinctive eye-stripe. The Long-legged Warbler is a shy bird and easily overlooked as it forages on the ground in pairs or small family groups. It has a distinctive alarm call, and a variable and loud song somewhat similar to that of the Fiji Bush-warbler. The species inhabits old-growth forest in mountainous areas on Viti Levu, usually in habitat adjacent to streams.

The Long-legged Warbler was first collected in 1890 and four specimens were collected between then an 1894, after which the species was not seen again until 1974 (though there were a few unconfirmed sightings). In 1974 a the Vanua Levu subspecies was discovered (although it has not been seen since). In 2003 scientists from BirdLife International working in Wabu Forest Reserve in Viti Levu discovered a small population. 12 pairs, along with two recently fledged chicks, were observed by the team. (BirdLife International, 2003)

Other populations were subsequently found to occur in various locations in old-growth montane forest between 300 and 800 meters AMSL. The population is assessed to be stable or at least not declining rapidly, if very small (between 50-249 mature birds) but protection of sufficient habitat is necessary to keep it that way (BirdLife International, 2006). Threats include some logging and the impact of introduced predators (the Small Asian Mongoose and the Black Rat). Neither has been quantified, but they appear not to be very serious at the moment. (BirdLife International, 2006)


  • BirdLife International (2003): Long-lost long-legged bird rediscovered Downloaded from on 17/9/2006
  • BirdLife International (2006): Species factsheet: Trichocichla rufa Downloaded from on 17/9/2006
  • Pratt, H.; Bruner, P & Berrett, D. (1987) The Birds of Hawaii and the Tropical Pacific Princeton University Press, Princeton. ISBN 0-691-08402-5

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