Justification of Red List Category
This species has undergone a severe decline as a result of continuing forest clearance and is now likely to have been extirpated from substantial parts of its range. Its remaining population size is very small and fragmented into extremely small subpopulations. For these reasons, the species qualifies as Critically Endangered.
The species is considered to be rare (CEMAVE 2018). According to the National Red List of Brazil, it is possible to estimate, with a high confidence level, that the total population does not exceed 250 mature individuals and that each subpopulation has fewer than 50 mature individuals (CEMAVE 2018). The population size is therefore placed in the band 50-249 mature individuals.
The species was previously easily observed in Espírito Santo, but there have been few, if any, records from the state since the 1990s, despite a large number of observers and researchers searching for the species in the region, and it may now be extirpated from the state (CEMAVE 2018, A. Lees in litt. 2019, G. Kirwan in litt. 2019, eBird 2019). From this information, it is inferred that the population size has declined recently. Based on records of the species, the species's extent of occurrence is inferred to have declined by approximately 30-40% since the 1990s; based on this, a population reduction of 20-29% over three generations is suspected (13.8 years). An analysis of remote-sensed data on forest loss estimated that forest was lost within the species's range from 2000-2012 at a rate equivalent to 4% across three generations (Tracewski et. al. 2016).
Cotinga maculata occurs in south-east Bahia, with two records from northeast Minas Gerais in 2003 (Santa Maria do Salto and Bandeira municipalities) (Ribon et al. 2004) and none since the 19th century in Rio de Janeiro, south-east Brazil. It was previously easily observed in Espírito Santo, but there have been few, if any, records from the state since the 1990s and it may now be extirpated from the state (CEMAVE 2018, A. Lees in litt. 2019, G. Kirwan in litt. 2019, eBird 2019). It has declined significantly in abundance and distribution and is now mostly confined to a few protected areas, notably RPPN Estação Veracel (formerly known as Estação Veracruz), Porto Seguro, Bahia as well as Reserva Serra Bonita, Camacan, also in Bahia (Wiki Aves 2015, eBird 2019, Cavarzere et. al. 2019). It has been recorded in Monte Pascoal National Park, Bahia, and in Sooretama Biological Reserve and Linhares Forest Reserve in Espirito Santo, but there are few, if any, records from any of these sites since the 1990s (Kirwan and Green 2011, WikiAves 2015, CEMAVE 2018, eBird 2019, Snow & Sharpe 2019). It is possible that it may persist in Rio Doce State Park, Minas Gerais, although there are no recent records (Kirwan and Green 2011, WikiAves 2015). It was not common even in the early 20th century and, given its fragmented distribution, overall numbers cannot be high.
It inhabits the canopy of primary, humid, lowland Atlantic forest, and is often observed along the edge of clearings, though this may reflect observational bias. The species feed on fruit - predominantly Byrsonima sericea and Ficus species (de Godoy 2018). A nest (a flimsy cup-shaped structure of twigs placed in the fork of an almost horizontal branch in the canopy) attended by an incubating female was found in October (Gonzaga and Collar 2010). It has also been reported nesting inside an arboreal termite nest, although this requires confirmation (Snow 2004, Gonzaga and Collar 2010). Local movements, at least of part of the population, may have occurred in the past, but this is apparently no longer the case (Snow and Sharpe 2019).
The main threats to the species are the large-scale destruction of the remaining lowland Atlantic forest and illegal capture for the cage-bird trade (CEMAVE 2018). The extensive and continuing deforestation within its range has isolated populations in a few key protected areas. Forest is logged and burned and cleared for conversion to agriculture for crops such as coffee and for grazing (CEMAVE 2018, Cavarzere et. al. 2019). In the past, birds were collected for feather-flower craftwork by local Indians and Bahian nuns. The apparent scarcity of the species in trade during recent decades is probably a consequence of its rarity.
Conservation Actions Underway
CITES Appendix I and protected by Brazilian law. Considered Critically Endangered in Brazil (Silveira and Straube 2008, MMA 2014). The species is included in the National Action Plan for the Conservation of Birds of the Atlantic Forest (ICMBio 2017). It is present in protected areas, of which RPPN Estação Veracel and Reserva Serra Bonita may be of critical importance. RPPN Estação Veracel has a management plan (RPPN Estação Veracel 2016). Four hundred hectares of forest at Bandeira, Minas Gerais has been protected as the Mata do Passarinho reserve (P. Develey and A. C. De Luca in litt. 2007, B. Hennessey in litt. 2016). Conservation Actions Proposed
Survey areas of suitable habitat within its range to locate further populations. Use observation towers to monitor the species's occurrence and populations (B. Whitney in litt. 2019). Research the species's ecology and habitat preferences (CEMAVE 2018). Effectively protect and restore remaining habitat (CEMAVE 2018). Increase connectivity between fragments of forest where the species remains (CEMAVE 2018).
20 cm. Strikingly beautiful, dark blue cotinga. Male has bright, dark cobalt-blue upperparts, somewhat mottled black on back. Bright purple throat to mid-belly, dissected by blue breast-band. Rest of underparts and undertail-coverts blue. Black wings and tail with lesser and median coverts broadly edged blue. Female is dusky brown above scaled whitish. Slightly paler and buffier underparts with quite broad scaling, giving paler appearance. Indistinct, whitish eye-ring. Dark iris. Similar spp. Female White-winged Cotinga Xipholena atropurpurea is not as scaly, but more uniform grey, with white fringing on wings and pale iris. Voice Low, quiet cries reported.
Text account compilers
Williams, R., Wheatley, H., Pople, R., Capper, D., Clay, R.P., Sharpe, C.J., Symes, A.
De Luca, A., Develey, P., Olmos, F., Hennessey, A.B., Kirwan, G.M. & Lees, A.
BirdLife International (2020) Species factsheet: Cotinga maculata. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 31/05/2020. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2020) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 31/05/2020.