Justification of Red List Category
This recently described species is listed as Critically Endangered. It had been known only from three museum specimens collected in 1971, until it was rediscovered in January 2018 in the Colombian Andes. The remaining population is thought to be extremely small (1-49 mature individuals).
Until recently, the species was only known from three specimens; the most recent date of collection was in 1971. In January 2018, the species was rediscovered in the municipality of San Pedro de los Milagros near Medellín. So far, fewer than 20 individuals in four populations have been identified (American Bird Conservancy 2019). The remaining population is likely very small, and is thus here placed in the band < 50 mature individuals.
There is no information on the population trend.
This species has been described in 2007 based upon three specimens collected at a Universidad de la Salle retreat called La Lana, vereda Llano de Ovejas, near San Pedro de los Milagros, Antioquia, Colombia. Two of the specimens are undated, but the third was collected in 1971 (Donegan 2007). Fieldwork in 2007 and 2008 (P. Salaman in litt. 2008) failed to detect the species close to the labelled type locality. Rapid assessment surveys in the Northern Andes have typically recorded over 90% of resident birds at survey sites and fieldwork at La Lana did record two other Atlapetes species, both of which were also recognised by local people; no-one recognised photographs of the A. blancae specimens. In January 2018, a small population was rediscovered near the type locality at San Pedro de los Milagros, Antioquia.
The species was collected on the Llano de Ovejas, a small plateau at 2,400-2,800 m. It probably occurred in forest, which has largely been denuded in this area. The recently rediscovered populations persist in small patches of low scrub in close proximity to human settlements (American Bird Conservancy 2019). Several congeners occur in the region of the type locality; with two species, A. schistaceus and A. latinuchus, apparently occurring sympatrically. These species may be partly separated by altitudinal range with schistaceus only found at 2,800 m at the site, and a third species A. albinucha occurring at lower elevations (Donegan 2007).
Over 70% of the natural vegetation within the municipality of San Pedro de los Milagros has already been converted to cattle pastures, and the remaining habitat is likewise under risk of being converted to pasture and agricultural land (American Bird Conservancy 2019). The species may also potentially be threatened by brood parasitism by Shiny Cowbirds (American Bird Conservancy 2019).
Conservation Actions Underway
Considered Critically Endangered (Possibly Extinct) in Colombia (Renjifo et al. 2014). Surveys were conducted in 2007 and 2008 to search for the species, though these proved unsuccessful (P. Salaman in litt. 2008, Donegan et al. 2009). Since October 2018, new searches have been being carried out to locate new subpopulations and to investigate the species's ecology, behaviour and habitat requirements, as well as to assess the threats it is facing (American Bird Conservancy 2019).
Conservation Actions Proposed
Explore the potential distribution range of the species. Carry out targeted searches for new subpopulations. Investigate the species's behaviour, ecology and habitat requirements. Investigate the threats to the species. Protect remaining habitat. Restore agricultural and pastureland, e.g. by promoting silvipasture methods (American Bird Conservancy 2019).
An overall grey brush-finch. Slate grey on the back and uppertail coverts; darker sooty-grey flight feathers and a black face mask from just in front of the eye to the back of the ear coverts. Has a bright rufous forehead, crown and nape. Pale below. Dark, fine, indistinct moustachial stripe. Shows a small white wing panel at the base of its central primaries. Juveniles lack the wing panel and show overall browner tones. Similar spp. It is slightly paler on the back than sympatric congeners. Differs from A. latinuchus in its brighter rufous crown, smaller wing panel, greyer (rather than blacker) back and grey rather than yellow plumage below. Differs from A. schistaceus in its larger and less pointed bill, brighter more extensive rufous crown, smaller wing panel, paler underside and lack of a bold moustachial or strong demarcation between the throat and breast.
Text account compilers
Sharpe, C.J., Symes, A., Hermes, C., Bird, J.
BirdLife International (2021) Species factsheet: Atlapetes blancae. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 25/10/2021. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2021) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 25/10/2021.