Black-headed Berryeater Carpornis melanocephala


Justification of Red List category
This species qualifies as Near Threatened because it is suspected to have a small, scattered population, which is likely to be in decline owing to the extensive loss of its lowland forest habitat.

Population justification
The species is uncommon in Bahia, Minas Geras and Espírito Santo, rare in Rio de Janeiro and restricted to a small site in Pernambuco (per D. M. Lima in litt. 2022). It is suspected that the total population numbers less than 10,000 mature individuals, with up to 1,000 mature individuals in each subpopulation, though it cannot be ruled out that the subpopulation in the Serra de Paranapiacaba may potentially be larger (ICMBio 2018, D. M. Lima in litt. 2022).

Trend justification
The population must have declined significantly, but it remains relatively common locally (Aleixo and Galetti 1997, A. Whittaker in litt. 1999, Develey 2004). It is suspected that declines are ongoing on the basis of deforestation and forest fragmentation. Over three generations (12.7 years), 9% of tree cover is lost within the extant range (Global Forest Watch 2022, using Hansen et al. [2013] data and methods disclosed therein). Given that the species is restricted to primary forest, population declines are likely to exceed the rate of tree cover loss as a consequence of additional forest degradation. Declines are therefore precautionarily placed in the band 10-19% over three generations.

Distribution and population

Carpornis melanocephala occurs in the lowlands of east Brazil, where it is found in Alagoas (Murici) and from Bahia, Minas Gerais, Espírito Santo and possibly Rio de Janeiro south to São Paulo and Paraná. Its range is now fragmented, and remaining populations are largely restricted to protected areas.


This frugivore frequents the mid-storey of primary humid Atlantic forest. It is found at elevations of up to 800 m, though mostly below 300 m (Snow et al. 2020). At Linhares, birds favour areas of dense vegetation with high liana and spiny-palm densities, on dry sandy soils away from water. It also occurs in tall "restinga" (coastal moist broadleaf forest) on Ilha Comprida (G. M. Kirwan in litt. 1999). Calling birds tend to be aggregated, although individual birds are at least 50 m, often more than 100 m, apart. The diet consists primarily of fruit, mainly of Myrtaceae at Intervales (Aleixo and Galetti 1997), with one bird observed eating a stick insect.


Given the species' low tolerance of converted habitats, it is severely threatened by forest loss (ICMBio 2018). Extensive deforestation is continuing in this region and this species is now largely dependent on a few key protected areas. The harvesting of palmito palms Euterpe edulis may be a threat, as it temporarily reduces food availability (Aleixo and Galetti 1997, ICMBio 2018). Wildfires threaten the species' habitat; a widespread fire in July 1995 destroyed most of the forest at one site in Bahia (E. O. Willis and Y. Oniki in litt. 1999).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
The species is protected under Brazilian law. It survives in a number of protected areas, including Murici Ecological Reserve, as well as Serra das Lontras, Boa Nova, Descobrimento, Monte Pascoal, Pau Brasil and Superagüi national parks.

Conservation Actions Proposed
Survey using tape-playback in areas of suitable habitat to locate additional populations. Produce a precise estimate of the population size. Investigate its ecological requirements. Monitor the population trend. Protect areas of suitable habitat. Ensure de facto protection of all reserves where it is currently known to occur. Raise awareness for the species with the aim of reducing pressures on its habitat.


21 cm. Striking, green-and-yellow cotinga with red iris. Male has black head, neck and throat. Uniformly olivaceous upperparts. Pale olive breast, becoming yellower with slight dusky barring on rest of underparts. Short dark bill. Female similar with olive on crown and sides of head. Similar spp. Female Hooded Berryeater C. cucullatus is yellower below with wing-bars and more extensive black on head. Voice Dry, hollow tzuc note followed by hollow, descending whistle fUUuu, lasting c.2 seconds.


Text account compilers
Hermes, C.

Clay, R.P., De Luca, A., Develey, P., Khwaja, N., Kirwan, G.M., Lima, D.M., Minns, J., Oniki, Y., Parrini, R., Phalan, B., Pople, R., Sharpe, C.J., Subirá, R., Symes, A., Whittaker, A., Williams, R. & Willis, E.O.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Species factsheet: Carpornis melanocephala. Downloaded from http://datazone.birdlife.org/species/factsheet/black-headed-berryeater-carpornis-melanocephala on 10/12/2023.
Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2023) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://datazone.birdlife.org on 10/12/2023.