Justification of Red List Category
This species has a small range, with recent records from only two locations. Habitat loss is continuing and the population is therefore likely to be declining (Collar et al. 1992). It is consequently listed as Endangered. If it is found to be more widespread, the species may warrant downlisting to Vulnerable.
The species is considered rare and localised, but it is also poorly known. The population is provisionally estimated to number 1,000-2,499 individuals, but this requires confirmation. The estimate equates to 667-1,666 mature individuals, roudned here to 600-1,700 mature individuals.
Although there is no new information on population size or trend, habitat degradation is continuing within the small range, suggesting that the population is likely to be in decline.
Psarocolius cassini is known from the foothills and lowlands around the serranías de los Saltos and de Baudó, Chocó, north-west Colombia, where four specimens were taken in 1858, 1940 and 1945. Until recently, the only sightings were from a nesting colony at the headwaters of the río Acandí in 1991 (Renjifo et al. 2002), and north of Ensenada de Utría National Park in 1997 and 1999, when two and six individuals respectively were seen (Strewe 1999). However, two groups of 7-12 individuals were seen in the Siviru and Tipicay river basins, and 60 inactive nests documented (Fundación ProAves 2008). Its occurrence in the río Juradó valley has never been documented, and this area should not be considered a valid locality (Renjifo et al. 2002).
It inhabits humid lowland forest and edge at 100-365 m. It has been observed along rivers, and most recently on a sandy-soiled coastal plain (Strewe 1999). It may exhibit edaphic habitat specialisation and/or prefer primary forests with a naturally broken canopy, including very tall emergents in which feeding has been noted (Strewe 1999). Groups of 2-12 birds forage for fruit and insects in the canopy (Strewe 1999) (Fundación ProAves 2008). Two individuals seen in 1997 associated with a flock of c.25 Chestnut-headed Oropendola P. wagleri (Strewe 1999). The breeding season is probably May-June (Jaramillo and Burke 1999). Recently, 60 inactive nests were found between 19 and 20 metres above the ground in peach palms Bactris gasipaes and Guazuma ulmifolia trees, located in a transitional habitat between mature forest and banana plantations, on the banks of the Tripicay river (Fundación ProAves 2008).
It is thought to prefer forests along rivers and coastal plains, which are traditionally the first areas to be deforested (Strewe 1999). The development programmes for the Pacific region involve greatly expanding the road network, promoting human immigration and settlement, logging, agricultural expansion and mining (Dinerstein et al. 1995, Wege and Long 1995, WWF and IUCN 1994-1997, Strewe 1999). Conversion to oil palm plantations is a major current threat (C. Downing in litt. 2007). In the area north of Ensenada de Utría, a striking increase in logging (especially of large emergents), agricultural activity and road-building, notably the bridging of a large river, was noted between 1997 and 1999 (Strewe 1999). This species is also trapped for food and for the cagebird trade (Fundación ProAves 2008). Plans to create an interoceanic canal and complete the Pan-American highway across the Darién Gap have been halted, but if re-started this would have a severe impact on forests and birds in the region (Dinerstein et al. 1995, Wege and Long 1995, WWF and IUCN 1994-1997).
Conservation Actions Underway
Considered Endangered at the national level in Colombia (Renjifo et al. 2002, Renjifo et al. 2014). Ensenada de Utría Natural National Park protects at least one colony along R Boroboro (Hernández-Jaramillo & Calderón-Franco 2014), but the closed-canopy forest there may not be favoured by the species (Strewe 1999). It may also be found in the lower elevations of the Paramillo Natural National Park (Fraga and Sharpe 2016). A number of natural biotic areas/anthropogenic reserves are located within its range (IUCN 1992) and could contribute to its protection.
46 cm. Large, black-and-chestnut, crow-like icterid. Black with rich chestnut back, flanks and closed wings (blackish primary tips only). Bare pink cheek patch. Lemon-yellow tail with blackish central tail-feathers. Long, black, conical bill, tipped orange-red. Similar species Black Oropendola P. guatimozinus only reliably distinguished by bare blue cheek patch, pink wattle and culmen base. Voice Two-part song. Series of bubbly, tinkling notes overlaid by metallic sounds followed by loud, liquid gurgle skol-l-l-l-l-wool. Nasal wak call.
Text account compilers
Gilroy, J., Pople, R., Sharpe, C J
Downing, C., Caro, D.
BirdLife International (2019) Species factsheet: Psarocolius cassini. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 26/04/2019. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2019) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 26/04/2019.