The most noticeable feature of this small bird is the bright sky-blue, fleshy fold of skin surrounding each of its green eyes. The broad, flattened and slightly hooked bill is also a pale blue, and the crown is purple, bordered by a greyish collar. The back is purple, turning to a bright chestnut on the rump and tail. The wings are black with prominent white and lilac bands. The underparts are lilac, becoming yellowish-white on the lower belly. The male and female are similar, except the female has a pure white breast and belly, whilst juveniles are duller than adults (2).
The Visayan broadbill searches for food at the lower levels of the forest, where it feeds primarily on small insects. It forages singly or in groups of up to five individuals, sometimes in flocks with other bird species. It is thought to breed from February to June and its nest is likely to be similar to that of the very closely related Mindanao broadbill; a large and elaborate nest, shaped like a hanging purse (2)(3).
The Visayan broadbill inhabits primary forest, frequently in areas with limestone outcrops. However, this may simply be where forest remains, as limestone areas are frequently too rocky to cultivate, rather than a habitat requirement. The Visayan broadbill is usually found in lowlands, between 100 and 600 meters on Samar, 300 to 750 meters on Bohol, and rarely to 600 meters on Leyte (2)(3).
The destruction and degradation of lowland forests poses a significant and widespread threat to the Visayan broadbill. All three islands were once completely forested, but in 1988 satellite data showed that only 33 percent of Samar remained covered in forest, 14 percent of Leyte and only 6 percent of Bohol (4). Many of the factors that contributed to the loss of habitat in the past continue to threaten the remaining forest patches and the wildlife within. This includes firewood collection, slash-and-burn agriculture, commercial forestry and mining (5). Such forest degradation is particularly worrying due to the Visayan broadbill’s lack of tolerance for disturbed forest (3).
The Visayan broadbill occurs within the Rajah Sikatuna National Park, which contains the remaining natural forest on Bohol. The conditions in this park are thought to be fairly good, and the Philippine Department of Natural Resources is actively reforesting edges of the park (5). The Visayan broadbill’s ecology, breeding biology and status should all be investigated, and then further critical sites requiring protection can be identified (2).
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