Alagoas Tyrannulet Phylloscartes ceciliae


Justification of Red List Category
This species occurs within a restricted, severely fragmented and declining range, and it is considered to have an extremely small and rapidly declining population. It is therefore now listed as Critically Endangered.

Population justification
In the Brazilian Red List the population size was estimated at <250 mature individuals, with each subpopulation containing <50 mature individuals (MMA 2014).

Trend justification
An ongoing rapid decline in the population is suspected to be taking place owing to severe habitat loss and fragmentation.

Distribution and population

Phylloscartes ceciliae is known from 21 localities in Alagoas and Pernambuco states, north-east Brazil. It was discovered at Murici in 1983 and subsequently found at Pedra Talhada in 1987. Forest patches at both these sites are extremely small and severely fragmented. It has since been found at Pedra Branca, Frei Caneca/Pedra Dantas, Brejo dos Cavalos, Mato do Estado, Agua Azul and Gravatá in Pernambuco, and at Quebrângulo and Mata do Engenho Coimbra in Alagoas (Mazar Barnett et al. 2005, Roda et al. 2011, Pereira et al. 2014). At Pedra Branca, it was considered rather common, but 15 days of observations between 1996-1999 found the species on only three occasions (A. Whittaker in litt. 1999).


It occurs in upland humid forest at 400-550 m, often joining mixed-species flocks in the mid-storey and subcanopy, 6-15 m above ground. The diet consists of small insects taken from the surface of leaves and branches. Breeding is likely to take place from September to February. A nest was found in a rather open area in 1990.


There has been massive clearance of Atlantic forest in Alagoas, largely as a result of logging and conversion to sugarcane plantations and pastureland. Forest at Murici has been reduced from 70 km2 in the 1970s, to a mere 30 km2 of highly disturbed and fragmented habitat in 1999 (J. M. Goerck in litt. 1999). The site is severely threatened by fires spreading from adjacent plantations, and further logging with new roads were evident in January 1999 (J. M. Goerck in litt. 1999; A. Whittaker in litt. 1999).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
In Brazil, it was formerly considered Endangered (Silveira & Straube 2008), but is now legally recognised as Critically Endangered (MMA 2014) and protected under Brazilian law. It occurs in Pedra Talhada Biological Reserve, where significant areas are being reforested with native trees (A. Studer per A. Whittaker in litt. 1999). Protection at this reserve is enforced by guards and apparently welcomed by local communities (A. Studer per A. Whittaker in litt. 1999). Land at Murici remains privately-owned and a number of conservation initiatives have so far failed to halt forest loss (J. M. Goerck in litt. 1999). Recently also recorded at Reserva Privada do Patrimônio Natural Frei Caneca (630 ha) in Pernambuco (Mazar Barnett et al. 2005).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Survey sites with any remnant patches of habitat in Alagoas (such as Usina Serra Grande) and Pernambuco. Designate Murici as a biological reserve and ensure its de facto protection. Continue the reforestation programme and de facto protection at Pedra Talhada. Designate Mata do Estado and Pedra Dantas as protected areas (S. Roda in litt. 2007).


12 cm. Small, olivaceous-green tyrannulet. Whitish supercilium and area below eye extending onto ear-coverts. Latter has dusky outline merging into dusky eye-stripe and loral area. Whitish underparts, washed dark green on flanks and pale yellowish on lower belly. Dusky wings and tail. Two pale yellowish wing-bars and fringing. Similar spp. Resembles allopatric Mottle-cheeked Tyrannulet P. ventralis. Voice Uncharacteristic peeping sequence djü, djü, sometimes sharper and faster ürürüt, ürürüt and inconspicuous tchüp. Occasionally fast sweek! sweek-a-dee-deek.


Text account compilers
Benstead, P., Symes, A., Westrip, J., Capper, D., Sharpe, C.J., Wheatley, H.

Goerck, J., Roda, S., Whittaker, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2020) Species factsheet: Phylloscartes ceciliae. Downloaded from on 06/08/2020. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2020) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 06/08/2020.