Ornithological surveys were conducted over a seven-week period on Taliabu, Sula Islands, Indonesia in 1991, concentrating on eight species (seven of which have restricted ranges) considered (in 1991) to be threatened and six species (two of which have restricted ranges) considered near-threatened. All of the restricted-range species are dependent on lowland forest, although most persist in secondary habitats, and some also occur in montane forest. Tyto nigrobrunnea was recorded for the first time since the type-specimen was collected in 1938, and is perhaps the most threatened of all the restricted-range birds. Megapodius bernsteinii, Pitta dohertyi, Rhinomyias colonus, Basilornis galeatus and Streptocitta albertinae are threatened in the longer term, primarily by habitat loss. Both Coracina schistacea and C. sula are able to persist in all but the most degraded of habitats. Of the two restricted-range species considered near-threatened, Zoothera erythronota is at greatest risk on Taliabu, apparently restricted to lowland forests. The other, Ptilinopus subgularis, is common in lowland forest and also occurs in montane forest. Little primary lowland forest was found in the areas visited on the island, and identifying remaining areas of this forest type and its relative importance to the birds, especially restricted-range species, should be given highest priority in further surveys. The suitability of a proposed reserve area on the island was evaluated: a larger area of lowland forest than is currently proposed should be afforded protection in order to safeguard the island's characteristic avifauna.