Black-tailed Antbird Myrmoborus melanurus


Justification of Red List Category

Based on a model of future deforestation in the Amazon basin, and its dependence on primary forest, it is suspected that the population of this species will decline rapidly over the next three generations, and it has therefore been uplisted to Vulnerable.

Population justification
It is generally considered rare to uncommon, despite widespread knowledge of its voice and habits (Alonso and B. M. Whitney in litt. 1999, Schulenberg et al. 2007). The global population size has not been quantified, but this species is described as 'fairly common' (Stotz et al. 1996).

Trend justification
This species is suspected to lose 37.5-37.6% of suitable habitat within its distribution over three generations (14 years) based on a model of Amazonian deforestation (Soares-Filho et al. 2006, Bird et al. 2011). Given the susceptibility of the species to fragmentation and/or edge effects, it is therefore suspected to decline by ≥30% over three generations.

Distribution and population

Myrmoborus melanurus is known from a relatively small range along the ríos Aypena (at its confluence with the Marañón), Tigre, Samiria, Pacaya, Ucayali and upper Amazonas, in Loreto, north-east Peru (Ridgely and Tudor 1994, Begazo and Valqui 1998, Alonso and B. M. Whitney in litt. 1999) and adjacent Brazil (right bank of río Javari, extreme W Amazonas). Appropriate habitat is extensive on these rivers, as well as the Pastaza and Napo, and the species will almost certainly be found at further locations in their drainages (Alonso and B. M. Whitney in litt. 1999).


This species occurs in seasonally flooded humid lowland forest (Ridgely and Tudor 1994, Alonso and B. M. Whitney in litt. 1999) at elevations up to c.200 m. At most sites, it has been recorded in low bushy forest with profuse vine tangles, on river islands, around oxbow lakes, along small rivers and creeks (Alonso and B. M. Whitney in litt. 1999). Along the río Tigre, it has been recorded on the margins of black water oxbow lakes with stunted forest, and in swampy forest dominated by Mauritia flexuosa palm trees (Alonso and B. M. Whitney in litt. 1999).


Large tracts of suitable habitat remain, but deforestation is occurring within its range, especially near Iquitos. The region is under threat from oil exploration and extraction, while associated road-building has facilitated further human colonisation (Dinerstein et al. 1995).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
It has been found during inventories of Pacaya Samiria Reserve, but this is a multiple-use area, with nature conservation primarily oriented to support economic activities (Begazo and Valqui 1998, Alonso and B. M. Whitney in litt. 1999).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Conduct surveys of suitable habitats within and surrounding the known range to determine its true distribution and abundance. Ensure that remaining tracts of suitable habitat receive adequate protection. Conduct further studies to determine the precise habitat requirements of this species. Expand the protected area network to effectively protect IBAs. Effectively resource and manage existing and new protected areas, utilising emerging opportunities to finance protected area management with the joint aims of reducing carbon emissions and maximizing biodiversity conservation. Conservation on private lands, through expanding market pressures for sound land management and preventing forest clearance on lands unsuitable for agriculture, is also essential (Soares-Filho et al. 2006).


12.5 cm. A uniformly sooty, small antbird. Male all dark slaty grey; paler on belly. Face, throat, wings and tail blackish. Wing-coverts tipped white forming narrow wing-bars. Semi-concealed white dorsal patch. Bright red iris. The female has brown upperparts and tail; indistinct dusky mask. Underparts whitish with buff tinge on breast and some brown on sides. Wing-bars as in male. Similar spp. Male Black-faced Antbird M. myotherinus has a more contrasting black face and a silvery eyebrow; the female also has a black mask and mostly buffy underparts. Voice A loud, fast series of clear descending tew notes. Hints Best located by voice.


Text account compilers
Butchart, S., Gilroy, J., Sharpe, C J

Whitney, B.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2022) Species factsheet: Myrmoborus melanurus. Downloaded from on 05/12/2022. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2022) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 05/12/2022.