Species Profile and Threats Database

For information to assist proponents in referral, environmental assessments and compliance issues, refer to the Policy Statements and Guidelines (where available), the Conservation Advice (where available) or the Listing Advice (where available).
In addition, proponents and land managers should refer to the Recovery Plan (where available) or the Conservation Advice (where available) for recovery, mitigation and conservation information.

EPBC Act Listing Status Listed as Extinct
Listed migratory - JAMBA
Adopted/Made Recovery Plans
Federal Register of
    Legislative Instruments
Declaration under s178, s181, and s183 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 - List of threatened species, List of threatened ecological communities and List of threatening processes (Commonwealth of Australia, 2000) [Legislative Instrument].
List of Migratory Species (13/07/2000) (Commonwealth of Australia, 2000b) [Legislative Instrument].
Non-statutory Listing Status
NGO: Listed as Extinct (The Action Plan for Australian Birds 2010)
Scientific name Lalage leucopyga leucopyga [25985]
Family Campephagidae:Passeriformes:Aves:Chordata:Animalia
Species author (Gould, 1838)
Infraspecies author  
Distribution map Species Distribution Map not available for this taxon.
Illustrations Google Images

Migratory-listed species that are not migratory: When created in 2001, the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) list of migratory species included species listed as Endangered or Presumed Extinct in Australia and Endangered in Japan. These species are not included as part of the JAMBA annex (the list of birds known to migrate between the two countries) and therefore do not meet the migratory species listing criteria s209(3) of the EPBC Act.

Scientific name: Lalage leucopyga leucopyga

Common name: Norfolk Island Long-tailed Triller

The Norfolk Island Long-tailed Triller, Lalage leucopyga leucopyga, is a conventionally accepted subspecies of the Long-tailed Triller, Lalage leucopyga (Christidis & Boles 1994; Higgins et al. 2006; Schodde & Mason 1999).

The extinct Norfolk Island Long-tailed Triller was a small black and white or dark brown and white passerine with a long tail. It was 17-18 centimetres long. The male, when in breeding plumage, was glossy black on the top of the head and neck, and off white or pale buff on the face, below the eye. Most of the rest of the upperparts were black, except for a white shoulder patch and rump, and a white tip to the tail. The underparts were white or pale buff. Plumage of both non-breeding males and females was similar to males' breeding plumage, except for the glossy black upperparts which were blackish brown (Bregulla 1992; Higgins et al. 2006; Mayr 1945).

The social structure and dispersion of the Norfolk Island subspecies are unrecorded, but the other subspecies usually occur in pairs or small groups (Mayr 1945).

The Norfolk Island Long-tailed Triller was the only subspecies of the Long-tailed Triller to occur in Australia (Higgins et al. 2006a; Schodde & Mason 1999). The Norfolk Island Long-tailed Triller was restricted to Norfolk Island in the south-western Pacific Ocean (Schodde & Mason 1999). It was last recorded in 1942 (Schodde et al. 1983) and is, thus, presently extinct.

The species as a whole, currently, occurs in five populations, each considered a separate subspecies (Higgins et al. 2006a; Mayr & Ripley 1941). Consequently, the other extant subspecies of the Long-tailed Triller occur on islands in the south-western Pacific Ocean: New Caledonia; Vanuatu; and the Solomon Islands (Higgins et al. 2006a; Mayr 1945; Schodde & Mason 1999; Sibley & Monroe 1990).

There have not been any comprehensive surveys for the species. There have, however, been a number of ornithological surveys on Norfolk Island since the extinction of the Norfolk Island Long-tailed Triller (e.g. Schodde et al. 1983; Robinson 1988; Bell 1990a), resulting in no sign of the subspecies.

The Norfolk Island Long-tailed Triller formed a distinct population separated, geographically, from all other subspecies (Higgins et al. 2006a; Schodde & Mason 1999). The subspecies was formerly considered abundant (Schodde et al. 1983), and was reported to occur in 'considerable numbers' (Hull 1909). However, no population estimates were available.

The Norfolk Island Long-tailed Triller became extinct by the mid-twentieth century. The other subspecies are assumed to be stable and secure, as they are not listed as declining or threatened (Birdlife International 2000; Collar et al. 1994).

The Norfolk Island Long-tailed Triller is known to have inhabited rainforest (De Ravin 1975), and is thought to have occurred in all wooded habitats on Norfolk Island (Garnett & Crowley 2000). The other subspecies occur in open country with tall trees and shrubs in which to perch, rather than in 'solid forest'. The species is more likely to be seen at the edge of the forest or in secondary regrowth and it is often recorded in plantations or gardens in villages and towns (Bregulla 1992; Doughty et al. 1999; Mayr 1945).

The breeding biology is the only aspect of the ecology of the Norfolk Island Long-tailed Triller that is reasonably well known. It was recorded breeding between September and February, when it built a shallow, cup-shaped nest of moss, lichen and root-fibres, and laid a clutch of two pale green eggs with olive-brown speckles (Hull 1909; North 1899). Norfolk Island Long-tailed Trillers were said to have laid a second clutch of eggs after heavy rainfall, which resulted in an abundance of food (Hull 1909).

The only food the Norfolk Island Long-tailed Triller was known to take were insects (Hull 1909). The other subspecies eat insects (both adults and larvae, including caterpillars) as well as small fruits (Mayr 1945).

The Norfolk Island Long-tailed Triller foraged on terrestrial insects by pouncing onto them from a suitable perch, such as a stump or fence-post, and took flying insects on the wing (Hull 1909).

There is no information on the home ranges or territories of the Norfolk Island Long-tailed Triller (Higgins et al. 2006a). The other subspecies maintain well-defined territories which are vigorously defended during the breeding season (Bregulla 1992).

The Long-tailed Triller would have been quite distinctive on Norfolk Island, as it was the only black and white passerine to occur on the island. Even during non-breeding, the blackish-brown and white plumage would have allowed easy identification.

The Norfolk Island subspecies was said to have been bright and lively (Hull 1909), so it was probably readily detectable. The other subspecies of the Long-tailed Trillers feed quietly in the outer branches of trees, often perching conspicuously in the tops of trees and shrubs, not obscured by the foliage (Bregulla 1992; Mayr 1945). 

Though the Norfolk Island Long-tailed Triller has been extinct since the mid-20th century, if a presence/absence survey were to be conducted, it should consist of diurnal area searches within a radius of 500 m at various sites, or transect-point surveys (Magrath et al. 2004).

The extinction of the Norfolk Island Long-tailed Triller is thought to have resulted from predation by the Black Rat (Rattus rattus), which arrived on the island in the 1940s (Garnett & Crowley 2000; Robinson 1988). This also coincided with the clearing of a large area of native forest for the construction of an airport (Garnett & Crowley 2000). Though it was last recorded in 1942 (Schodde et al. 1983), the subspecies was said to have been abundant just a year before (Schodde et al. 1983).

There have been no major studies on the subspecies. Higgins et al. (1996) summarises all available information on the species as a whole.

Management documents relevant to the Long-tailed Triller are at the start of the profile. In addition, The Action Plan for Australian Birds (Garnett & Crowley 2000) summarises critical ecological and conservation data for the subspecies.

The following table lists known and perceived threats to this species. Threats are based on the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) threat classification version 1.1.

Threat Class Threatening Species References
Uncategorised:Uncategorised:threats not specified Lalage leucopyga leucopygain Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage, 2006oo) [Internet].

Bell, B.D. (1990a). The Status and Management of the White-breasted White-eye and Other Birds on Norfolk Island. Report to Australian National Parks and Wildlife Service, Canberra.

Birdlife International (2000a). Threatened Birds of the World. Barcelona, Spain & Cambridge, UK: BirdLife International & Lynx Edicions.

Bregulla, H.L. (1992). Birds of Vanuatu. Oswestry, England: Anthony Nelson.

Christidis, L. & W.E. Boles (1994). The Taxonomy and Species of Birds of Australia and its Territories. Royal Australasian Ornithologists Union Monograph 2. Melbourne, Victoria: Royal Australasian Ornithologists Union.

Collar, N.J., M.J. Crosby & A.J. Stattersfield (1994). Birds to Watch 2. The World List of Threatened Birds. BirdLife International, Cambridge.

De Ravin, J.A. (1975). The birds of Norfolk Island. Australian Bird Watcher. 6:4-10.

Doughty, C., N. Day & A. Plant (1999). Birds of the Solomons, Vanuatu and New Caledonia. Christopher Helm, London.

Garnett, S.T. & G.M. Crowley (2000). The Action Plan for Australian Birds 2000. [Online]. Canberra, ACT: Environment Australia and Birds Australia. Available from:

Higgins, P.J., J.M. Peter & S.J. Cowling, eds. (2006a). Boatbill to Starlings. In: Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic Birds. 7. Melbourne: Oxford University Press.

Hull, A.F.B. (1909). The birds of Lord Howe and Norfolk Islands. Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales. 34:636-693.

Magrath, M.J.L., M.A. Weston, P. Olsen & M. Antos (2004). Draft Survey Standards for Birds: Species Accounts. Melbourne, Victoria: Report for the Department of the Environment and Heritage by Birds Australia.

Mayr, E. (1945). Birds of the Southwest Pacific. MacMillan, New York.

North, A.J. (1890). Descriptive Catalogue of the Nests and Eggs of Birds Found in Australia and Tasmania. Catalogue 12. Australian Museum, Sydney.

Robinson, D. (1988). Ecology and management of the Scarlet Robin, White-breasted White-eye and Long-billed White-eye on Norfolk Island. Report to Australian National Parks and Wildlife Service, Canberra.

Schodde, R. & I.J. Mason (1999). The Directory of Australian Birds: Passerines. Melbourne, Victoria: CSIRO.

Schodde, R., P. Fullagar & N. Hermes (1983). A review of Norfolk Island birds: past and present. Australian National Parks and Wildlife Service Special Publication. 8.

Sibley, C.G. & B.L. Monroe (1990). Distribution and Taxonomy of the Birds of the World. New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University Press.

EPBC Act email updates can be received via the Communities for Communities newsletter and the EPBC Act newsletter.

This database is designed to provide statutory, biological and ecological information on species and ecological communities, migratory species, marine species, and species and species products subject to international trade and commercial use protected under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the EPBC Act). It has been compiled from a range of sources including listing advice, recovery plans, published literature and individual experts. While reasonable efforts have been made to ensure the accuracy of the information, no guarantee is given, nor responsibility taken, by the Commonwealth for its accuracy, currency or completeness. The Commonwealth does not accept any responsibility for any loss or damage that may be occasioned directly or indirectly through the use of, or reliance on, the information contained in this database. The information contained in this database does not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth. This database is not intended to be a complete source of information on the matters it deals with. Individuals and organisations should consider all the available information, including that available from other sources, in deciding whether there is a need to make a referral or apply for a permit or exemption under the EPBC Act.

Citation: Department of the Environment (2014). Lalage leucopyga leucopyga in Species Profile and Threats Database, Department of the Environment, Canberra. Available from: Accessed Fri, 22 Aug 2014 00:25:24 +1000.