Ostrich: Journal of African Ornithology

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Effect of logging on the Abbott's Starling (Pholia femoralis) population in Kikuyu escarpment forest, Kenya

Nickson Erick Otieno, Muchai Muchane, Sylvester Karimi


Human encroachment continues to degrade highland forests. Abbott's Starling (Pholia femoralis) is a little-known Eastern African endemic frugivore restricted to highland forest canopy at altitudes of 1 800–2 600m. It occurs patchily within its restricted range of about 5 100km2, its global population of 1 250–5 000 pairs is declining and it is listed in the IUCN Red Data List as Globally Vulnerable. In Kenya, it inhabits Mt Kenya forests, the Kikuyu escarpment forest, and occasionally the Taita and Chyulu Hills, while in Tanzania it lives in forests of Mounts Kilimanjaro, Meru and North Pare. We studied the bird's distribution in two primary and two disturbed blocks of the Kikuyu escarpment forest from August to September 2003. Twelve transects, averaging 1.8km each, were established to determine the logging patterns and to count P. femoralis at 130 points, using recorded calls. A total of 16 birds were sighted in the main Kereita block in three out of five transects, perching at a mean height of 30m. Possibly due to rainy weather, no sightings were made in Kieni block. The bird appeared to be sensitive to human disturbance, preferring secluded forest sections of tall indigenous trees with discontinuous canopy. This suggests that this species will only survive at this locality if logging and other forms of forest use do not exceed current levels.

Ostrich 2007, 78(2): 299–304

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