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).
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EPBC Act Listing Status Listed as Extinct
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].
List of Migratory Species - Amendment to the list of migratory species under section 209 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (26/11/2013) (Commonwealth of Australia, 2013af) [Legislative Instrument].
State Listing Status
NSW: Listed as Extinct (Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995 (New South Wales): August 2014 list)
Non-statutory Listing Status
IUCN: Listed as Extinct (Global Status: IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: 2013.1 list)
NGO: Listed as Extinct (The Action Plan for Australian Birds 2010)
Scientific name Gerygone insularis [25888]
Family Pardalotidae:Passeriformes:Aves:Chordata:Animalia
Species author Ramsey, 1879
Infraspecies author  
Distribution map Species Distribution Map not available for this taxon.
Illustrations Google Images

Scientific name: Gerygone insularis

Common name: Lord Howe Gerygone

The Lord Howe Gerygone Gerygone insularis is a conventionally accepted species (Christidis & Boles 1994; Higgins & Peter 2002). It was previously regarded as a subspecies of the Grey Gerygone, Gerygone igata, of New Zealand by Schodde and Mason (1999), though Ford (1986b) noted that G. insularis was more closely related to G. flavolateralis and G. levigaster (Mangrove Gerygone) than to G. igata.

The extinct Lord Howe Gerygone was a small brown and greyish passerine (perching songbird) growing to 12 cm (Hutton 1991). The top of its head was uniform brown; its ear-coverts were pale greyish, as was the small eyebrow which extended above the lores. It also had a pale greyish eye-ring; and the chin and throat were also pale greyish, but with a faint yellowish tinge. The neck and upperparts were brown, concolorous with the top of the head, grading to yellowish-brown on the rump. The breast was pale greyish-white with a yellowish tinge, and the belly was rich straw yellow. Its tail was olive-brown at the base, grading to black towards the end, with white spots near the tip of the tail; the undertail was white. Its eyes were pink, its bill grey-black, and its legs and feet were blue-grey (Higgins & Peter 2002).

There is no information about its social structure, but the closely related Grey Warbler Gerygone igata of New Zealand occurs in territorial pairs during the breeding season and singly, in pairs or in small flocks during the non-breeding season (Dean 1990; Ryder 1948; Wagener 1966).

The Lord Howe Gerygone occurred only on Lord Howe Island (Hull 1909). The species was last recorded in 1928 (Sharland 1929).

There are no current captive populations of this species and none have been reintroduced into the wild.

There have not been any comprehensive surveys for this species. There have, however, been a number of ornithological surveys on Lord Howe Island since the 1920s, when the Lord Howe Gerygone is thought to have become extinct (Disney & Smithers 1972; Recher 1974; Recher & Clark 1974), and there has been no sign of the species.

The species was formerly considered common (McAllan et al. 2004; Sharland 1929) and 'fairly numerous' (Hull 1909).

There were no known subpopulations of the species.

The species was last recorded in 1928 (Sharland 1929).

There is no information regarding the generation length of the Lord Howe Gerygone. The generation length of the closely related Norfolk Island Gerygone, Gerygone modesta, is estimated at four years (Garnett & Crowley 2000).

Lord Howe Island was gazetted as a World Heritage Area in 1982, long after the species became extinct.

The Lord Howe Gerygone formerly inhabited native forest and secondary regrowth, where it occurred in the canopy (Ford 1986b; Hull 1909; Sharland 1929).

Nothing is known of the ages of sexual maturity, life expectancy and natural mortality of the Lord Howe Gerygone. In the closely related Grey Warbler, Gerygone igata, of New Zealand, at least some males may mate in the breeding season following the season of their fledging; and some birds have been recorded breeding successfully two years after fledging (Gill 1983b).

The Lord Howe Gerygone built a domed nest of dry bark, fibres, leaves, grass, moss and wool, bound together with spider webs; it had a side-entrance and a projecting hood, and was suspended from a twig. Lord Howe Gerygones laid clutches of three white eggs with a pinkish tinge and reddish-brown freckles (Hull 1909; Mack 1930b).

The Lord Howe Gerygone fed on small insects and spiders (Hull 1909; Hutton 1991).

There is little information about the foraging methods used by Lord Howe Gerygones, other than they actively pursued small insects, probably among foliage of trees (Hull 1909; Hutton 1991), and they occasionally entered houses to glean insects and spiders from the walls and ceilings (Hutton 1991). The closely related Grey Warbler, Gerygone igata, from New Zealand, forages mostly among foliage, gleaning invertebtrates from the leaves (Higgins & Peter 2002).

There is no information about any movements of the Lord Howe Gerygone. Given its endemism to Lord Howe Island, it was most likely sedentary. The closely related Grey Warbler Gerygone igata from New Zealand is largely sedentary (Higgins & Peter 2002).

There is nothing known of the home ranges or territories of the Lord Howe Gerygone. The closely related Grey Warbler, Gerygone igata, of New Zealand maintains territories of 0.25–1.73 ha during breeding season, and individuals stay in home ranges outside the breeding season (Higgins & Peter 2002).

It is thought that the Lord Howe Gerygone became extinct due to predation by Black Rats (Rattus rattus), which reached Lord Howe Island after fleeing the wreck of the S.S. Makambo in 1918 (Hindwood 1940). However, there may have been another cause, as the similar Norfolk Island Gerygone, Gerygone modesta, has survived on Norfolk Island for many years in the presence of rats. It is possible that disease from introduced passerines may have contributed to the species' decline on Lord Howe Island (McAllan et al. 2004). The species was last recorded in 1928 (Sharland 1929).

There have been no major studies on the Lord Howe Gerygone. Higgins and Peter (2002) summarise all that is known about the species. The Action Plan for Australian Birds (Garnett & Crowley 2000) also provides a summary of ecological and biological data for the species.

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 Gerygone insularis in Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage, 2006mb) [Internet].

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.

Dean, S.M. (1990). Composition and seasonality of mixed-species flocks of insectivorous birds. Notornis. 37:27-36.

Disney, H.J. de S. & C.N. Smithers (1972). The distribution of terrestrial and freshwater birds on Lord Howe Island, in comparison with Norfolk Island. Australian Zoologist. 17:1-11.

Ford, J. (1986b). Phylogeny of the Acanthizid warbler genus Gerygone based on numerical analyses of morphological characters. Emu. 86:12-22.

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

Gill, B.J. (1983b). Breeding habits of the Grey Warbler. Notornis. 30:137-165.

Higgins, P.J. & J.M. Peter (Eds) (2002). Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic Birds. Volume 6. Pardalotes to Spangled Drongo. Oxford University Press, Melbourne.

Hindwood, K.A. (1940). The birds of Lord Howe Island. Emu. 40:1-86.

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.

Hutton, I. (1991). Birds of Lord Howe Island: Past and Present. Coffs Harbour, NSW: author published.

Mack, G. (1930b). Notes and descriptions of some rare eggs of Australian birds. Emu. 29:302-303.

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.

McAllan, I.A.W., B.R. Curtis, I. Hutton & R.M. Cooper (2004). The birds of the Lord Howe Island Group: a review of records. Australian Field Ornithology. 21:1-82.

Recher, H.F., ed. (1974). Environmental Survey of Lord Howe Island: A Report to the Lord Howe Island Board. Sydney, NSW: Australian Museum.

Recher, H.F. & S.S. Clark (1974). A biological survey of Lord Howe Island with recommendations for the conservation of the island's wildlife. Biological Conservation. 6:263-273.

Ryder, H.R. (1948). Birds of Kaingaroa Forest. New Zealand Bird Notes. 3:20-22.

Sharland, M.S.R. (1929). Land birds of Lord Howe Island. Emu. 29:5-11.

Wagener, L.J. (1966). Birds of Simmonds Islands. Notornis. 13:150-156.

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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). Gerygone insularis in Species Profile and Threats Database, Department of the Environment, Canberra. Available from: Accessed Sun, 21 Sep 2014 18:54:32 +1000.