Bananal Antbird Cercomacra ferdinandi


Justification of Red List Category
This species qualifies as Vulnerable because it is suspected to have suffered a rapid population decline owing to destruction of its riverside habitat by the construction of large hydroelectric plants within its range. These declines are projected to continue owing to further planned dam construction.

Population justification
Although restricted in range and extent of suitable habitat, it is common where it occurs. The population is estimated to number 10,000-19,999 mature individuals, equating to 15,000-29,999 individuals in total, rounded here to 15,000-30,000 individuals. However, this population estimate is preliminary and requires confirmation.

Trend justification
A rapid and on-going decline is suspected, based on the loss of habitat (riparian thickets and forest undergrowth near water) owing to construction of large hydroelectric plants along the entire Tocantins river and most of the Araguaia river (F. Olmos in litt. 2003).

Distribution and population

Cercomacra ferdinandi is endemic to Brazil, occurring along both banks of the Araguaia river from Ilha do Bananal up to at least Araguatins, on both margins of the Tocantins river between Palmeirante and Babaçulândia (Olmos et al. 2005, Pacheco and Olmos in prep.) and on the right bank as far as São Pedro da Água Branca municipality (Vasconcelos and de Souza Werneck 2008), on the right bank of the Manoel Alves Grande (Olmos et al. 2005) and along other smaller tributaries of the Araguaia and Tocantins (Olmos et al. 2005). Localities are in Tocantins, Mato Grosso, Pará and Maranhão states (Central Brazil) (Olmos et al. 2005). Until recently it was thought to be restricted to the Araguaia basin, but is now known to be an endemic of the Tocantins-Araguaia basin (Olmos 2008). At sites such as Córreo Mango it is one of the commonest species in its specialised habitat (Olmos et al. 2005). Its potential range appears to be larger than its currently known distribution since there are several suitable regions in the north-northeastern, southeastern, and especially western parts of its distribution (Marini et al. 2010).


This species is found in riparian thickets and forest undergrowth near water (frequently in seasonally flooded areas and oxbow lakes). Breeding and feeding ecology are poorly known. Feeds individually, in pairs, or in small family groups on a variety of invertebrate prey. Forages in thick vegetation but occasionally pursues flushed prey in flight (del Hoyo et al. 2003).


The specialised habitat makes the species susceptible to changes in hydrological management, and there are on-going plans to build a series of large hydroelectrical plants along the entire Tocantins river (two have already been flooded and a third is being built) and most of the Araguaia river. These developments are already inferred to be causing population declines (F. Olmos in litt. 2003).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
It is considered nationally Vulnerable in Brazil (Silveira and Straube 2008, MMA 2014). Much of the range of this species falls within the Araguaia National Park (del Hoyo et al. 2003). The degree of protection afforded by this national park is unknown. No specific action known.

Conservation Actions Proposed
Undertake necessary surveys to establish range and population numbers. Undertake research into the natural history of the species in order to identify its ecological requirements. Pass legislation to limit developments along rivers. Lobby the government to revise plans for hydroelectric plants.


16 cm. Medium-sized, dark antbird. Male jet black, with partially concealed white patch on back, white wing bars, white patch on bend of wing and broad white tail tips. Female largely grey with fine white streaking on throat and breast. Similar spp. No other similar antbirds within its restricted range. Voice A rapid and variable mammal-like chattery churring.


Text account compilers
Benstead, P., Sharpe, C J, Symes, A.

Olmos, F.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2019) Species factsheet: Cercomacra ferdinandi. Downloaded from on 16/06/2019. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2019) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 16/06/2019.