Black-headed Berryeater Carpornis melanocephala


Justification of Red List Category
This species qualifies as Vulnerable because it has a small fragmented population which is likely to be suffering a continuing rapid decline owing to the extensive loss of its lowland forest habitat.

Population justification
The population is estimated to number 2,500-9,999 mature individuals based on an assessment of known records, descriptions of abundance and range size. This is consistent with recorded population density estimates for congeners or close relatives with a similar body size, and the fact that only a proportion of the estimated Extent of Occurrence is likely to be occupied. This estimate is equivalent to 3,750-14,999 individuals, rounded here to 3,500-15,000 individuals.

Trend justification
A rapid and on-going decline is suspected on the basis of rates of deforestation and fragmentation.

Distribution and population

Carpornis melanocephala is found in the lowlands of east Brazil, in Alagoas (Murici); Bahi, where it has been recently recorded from four sites (J. Minns and R. Parrini in litt. 1999, E. O. Willis and Y. Oniki in litt. 1999); Espírito Santo; Rio de Janeiro, where it has been recently recorded from two sites; São Paulo, and Paraná. It has been found at 16 sites in total (Kirwan and Green 2011). Its range is now fragmented, and remaining populations are largely restricted to protected areas. The population must have declined significantly, but it remains relatively common in a few areas, notably Murici, Linhares Forest Reserve, Intervales State Park (Aleixo and Galetti 1997, A. Whittaker in litt. 1999) and the Juréia-Itatins Ecological Station, São Paulo (Develey 2004).


This frugivore frequents the mid-storey of primary, lowland Atlantic forest. 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.


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 also be a threat (Aleixo and Galetti 1997). 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
It is considered Vulnerable at the national level in Brazil (Silveira and Straube 2008, MMA 2014) and protected under Brazilian law. It survives in a number of protected areas: Monte Pascoal and Ilha do Superagüi national parks; Córrego Grande, Sooretama and Boracéia biological reserves; Linhares Forest Reserve; Duas Bocas State Biological Reserve; Juréia-Itatins Ecological Station; Intervales, Jacupiranga and Ilha do Cardoso state parks; Sete Barras State Reserve, and Guaragueçaba Special Protection Area (Wege and Long 1995, Kirwan and Green 2011).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Survey using tape-playback in areas of suitable habitat to locate additional populations. Investigate its ecological requirements. Ensure de facto protection of all reserves where it is currently known to occur. Designate Murici as a biological reserve and ensure its de facto protection.


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
Williams, R., Khwaja, N., Pople, R., Clay, R.P., Symes, A., Sharpe, C J

Parrini, R., Kirwan, G., Develey, P., Minns, J., Whittaker, A., De Luca, A., Oniki, Y., Willis, E.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2022) Species factsheet: Carpornis melanocephala. Downloaded from on 05/10/2022. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2022) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 05/10/2022.