Wattled ploughbill

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Wattled ploughbill
Scientific classification Red Pencil Icon.png
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Suborder: Passeri
Family: Eulacestomidae
Schodde & Christidis, 2014
Genus: Eulacestoma
De Vis, 1894
E. nigropectus
Binomial name
Eulacestoma nigropectus
De Vis, 1894

The wattled ploughbill (Eulacestoma nigropectus) is a small bird from New Guinea. It is the only member of the monotypic genus Eulacestoma and family Eulacestomidae.

New Guinea Island in the Pacific Ocean

New Guinea is a large island separated by a shallow sea from the rest of the Australian continent. It is the world's second-largest island, after Greenland, covering a land area of 785,753 km2 (303,381 sq mi), and the largest wholly or partly within the Southern Hemisphere and Oceania.



The wattled ploughbill was long thought to be related to the whistlers (Pachycephalidae), and shriketits (formerly Pachycephalidae, now often treated as its own family). In particular the wattled ploughbill and crested shriketit share a similar large bill. Genetic studies have shown that these birds are not closely related, and as instead more closely related to the sittellas. Because of its genetic and morphological uniqueness, in 2014 Richard Schodde and Leslie Christidis placed it in its own monotypic family Eulacestomidae. [2]

Pachycephalidae family of birds

The Pachycephalidae are a family of bird species that includes the whistlers, shrikethrushes, and three of the pitohuis, and is part of the ancient Australo-Papuan radiation of songbirds. Its members range from small to medium in size, and occupy most of Australasia. Australia and New Guinea are the centre of their diversity and, in the case of the whistlers, the South Pacific islands as far as Tonga and Samoa and parts of Asia as far as India. The exact delimitation of boundaries of the family are uncertain, and one species, the golden whistler, has been the subject of intense taxonomic scrutiny in recent years, with multiple subspecies and species-level revisions.

Sittella Daphoenositta, a bird genus

The sittellas are a family, Neosittidae, of small passerine birds found only in Australasia. They resemble nuthatches, but whilst they were considered to be in that family for many years they are now afforded their own family. They do not migrate other than for local movements.

Richard Schodde, OAM is an Australian botanist and ornithologist.

The wattled ploughbill is a monotypic species, meaning it has no accepted subspecies. A subspecies clara has been proposed, but it is not reliably distinct from other birds in this species. [3]

Subspecies taxonomic rank subordinate to species

In biological classification, the term subspecies refers to one of two or more populations of a species living in different subdivisions of the species' range and varying from one another by morphological characteristics. A single subspecies cannot be recognized independently: a species is either recognized as having no subspecies at all or at least two, including any that are extinct. The term is abbreviated subsp. in botany and bacteriology, ssp. in zoology. The plural is the same as the singular: subspecies.


It is approximately 12.5 to 14 cm (4.9–5.5 in) , olive-brown songbird with a strong, thick, wedge-shaped black bill. It weighs 19–22 g (0.67–0.78 oz). The sexes are different. The male has black underparts, an almost golden forehead, black wings with golden scapulars, and a pair of large circular pink wattles on the cheek. The female has olive green plumage and pale olive below. Only the adult male has wattles. [3]

Songbird suborder of birds

A songbird is a bird belonging to the clade Passeri of the perching birds (Passeriformes). Another name that is sometimes seen as a scientific or vernacular name is Oscines, from Latin oscen, "a songbird". This group contains 5000 or so species found all over the world, in which the vocal organ typically is developed in such a way as to produce a diverse and elaborate bird song.

The beak, bill, and/or rostrum is an external anatomical structure of birds that is used for eating and for preening, manipulating objects, killing prey, fighting, probing for food, courtship and feeding young. The terms beak and rostrum are also used to refer to a similar mouth part in some ornithischians, pterosaurs, turtles, cetaceans, dicynodonts, anuran tadpoles, monotremes, sirens, pufferfish, billfishes and cephalopods.

Distribution and habitat

The wattled ploughbill is distributed and endemic to central mountain ranges of New Guinea.


The diet consists mainly of insects. The species feeds from the forest floor to up to 10 m (33 ft), from the understory to the mid-level of the forest. It particularly favours groves of bamboo as a micro-habitat for feeding. It forages on branches and twigs, gleaning insects from the surface and prising off bark to expose prey. The species will readily join mixed-species feeding flocks. [3]


Widespread throughout its large range, the wattled ploughbill is evaluated as least concern on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

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  1. BirdLife International (2012). "Eulacestoma nigropectus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature . Retrieved 26 November 2013.
  2. Schodde, R.; Christidis, L. (2014). "Relicts from Tertiary Australasia: undescribed families and subfamilies of songbirds (Passeriformes) and their zoogeographic signal". Zootaxa. 3786 (5): 501–522.
  3. 1 2 3 Boles, W (2018). del Hoyo, Josep; Elliott, Andrew; Sargatal, Jordi; Christie, David A; de Juana, Eduardo (eds.). "Wattled Ploughbill (Eulacestoma nigropectus)" . Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Barcelona: Lynx Edicions. Retrieved 13 February 2019.