This species inhabits an extremely small area on Montserrat (to UK) in the Lesser Antilles. By the early 1990s, it occurred throughout the three main forested hill ranges on the island (the Centre, Soufrière and South Soufrière hills), but volcanic activity in 1995-1997 entirely destroyed two-thirds of remaining habitat4. Initially, only the Centre Hills (c.14 km2) population was thought to have survived the pyroclastic flows (although even this area was heavily ashed)1,2, but a remnant population was later discovered in a 1-2 km2 forest patch in the South Soufrière hills, just 1 km from the summit of the volcano7,8. In December 1997, the estimated population was c.4,000 birds1, but intensive monitoring between 1997-2003 indicated that the Centre Hills population declined by 40-50%, despite reduced volcanic activity4,10. In 2001, 2003 and 2006, further major volcanic eruptions caused heavy ash falls on large areas of the Centre Hills, destroying several nests and curtailing breeding4,7,11. Recent evidence suggests that the downward fluctuation noted between 1997-2003 may have been reversed and the population is recovering. In 2005 (post-recovery), using point-counts calibrated by territory mapping and the Extent of Occurrence defined by positive census records the population was estimated at 930-3,000 individuals in the Centre Hills (depending on method of extrapolation) and 150-300 individuals in the South Soufrière population14. Confidence limits remain relatively wide, and the total population could conceivably be as low as 260 pairs or as high as 1,190 pairs14.
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