The Gurney's Pitta, Pitta gurneyi, is a medium-sized passerine bird. It breeds in Thailand and Burma.
This beautiful bird has a blue crown and black-and-yellow underparts. The rest of the head is black, and it has warm brown upperparts. The female has a brown crown and buffy-whitish underparts. The name of this bird commemorates the English ornithologist John Henry Gurney.
Gurney's Pitta is close to extinction. Indeed, it was thought to be extinct for some time after 1952, but was rediscovered in 1986. Its rarity has been caused by the almost total clearance of natural forest in southern Burma and peninsular Thailand.
Its population was estimated at nine pairs in 1997. A search for it in Burma in 2003 was successful and discovered that the species persisted at four sites with a maximum of 10-12 pairs at one location. This extremely rare and spectacularly-colored bird was recently voted the "most wanted bird in Thailand" by bird watchers visiting that country.
It was formerly classified as Critically Endangered by the IUCN. However, the new populations demonstrate that, although precariously rare, it is not quite as close to extinction as was believed. Consequently, it was downlisted to Endangered status in 2008.