Blue-eyed Ground-dove Columbina cyanopis


Justification of Red List Category
This species is very rare, with recent records from only three locations suggesting that the total population is extremely small and severely fragmented. A continuing decline is inevitable given the rapid rates of habitat loss in the region. These factors qualify the species as Critically Endangered.

Population justification
The population is estimated to number 50-249 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 75-374 individuals in total, rounded here to 70-400 individuals.

Trend justification
This species has historically been rare, although the reasons behind this apparent rarity are not understood. However, it has been recorded from just three locations in recent years and is suspected to be declining owing to widespread habitat loss within its range.

Distribution and population

Columbina cyanopis is known from very few records over a wide range in the interior of Brazil. There is a small population in the Serra das Araras, Mato Grosso (da Silva and Oniki 1988, B. A. Carlos per A. Whittaker in litt. 1999), most recently recorded in 2007 (Valadão 2012). However the only other recent records are from near Cuiabá (also in Mato Grosso) in the 1980s, and one individual at Campo Grande, Mato Grosso do Sul, in 1992 (Parker and Willis 1997). Historical records are also scarce, with five specimens collected in Mato Grosso in 1823-1825, two from Goiás in 1940-1941, and one from São Paulo in 1904. The first photographs were obtained in May 2016 in Minas Gerais, following sightings in June 2015; at least 12 individuals have been observed (Baptista et al. 2016).


It occurs in campo cerrado grasslands (Stotz et al. 1996, Parker and Willis 1997), and was once observed in a rice-field after harvest. It is terrestrial and occurs singly or in pairs. Nothing further is known of the biology of the species (Baptista et al. 2016).


The reasons for this species's historical rarity are unknown because, until recently, large areas of potentially suitable habitat remained. It is now severely threatened by the massive destruction of the Brazilian cerrado. The combined effects of grazing, invasive grasses, annual burning and conversion to agriculture for Eucalyptus plantations, soybeans and pastures for exportable crops, encouraged by government land reform (Stotz et al. 1996, Parker and Willis 1997), had heavily or moderately altered two-thirds of the cerrado region by 1993 (Conservation International 1999). Most of this destruction has occurred since 1950 (Cavalcanti 1999).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
Legally designated as Critically Endangered (Possibly Extinct) at the national level in Brazil (MMA 2014). It is protected under Brazilian law, and occurs in Serra das Araras Ecological Station. National parks encompass relatively large areas of potentially suitable cerrado grassland habitat. Searches in Serra das Araras took place during 2010, but failed to encounter the species.

Conservation Actions Proposed

Survey the Serra das Araras to determine the size of the population and propose measures for its protection. Survey near Cuiabá and at Campo Grande to determine its status and protect these areas if appropriate. Survey any area with apparently suitable habitat, especially Emas National Park and Iquê-Juruena Ecological Station, Chapada dos Veadeiros and the still extensive open cerrados along the Tocantins/Goiás border, taking care to avoid overlooking the species by confusing it with other sympatric species (Tobias et al. 2006). Study its ecology to assess reasons for its historical rarity.


15.5 cm. Small, brownish dove. Bright rufous-brown head, neck, breast, rump and wings. Paler brown mantle and rest of underparts. White vent and whitish throat. Dark blue spots on wings. Dark brown outer primaries. Blackish tail. Rufous underwing. Blue iris and grey orbital skin. Black bill with grey base. Pink feet. Female paler, especially on underparts. Similar spp. Ruddy Ground-dove C. talpacoti lacks rufous head, and whitish throat and vent. Voice Unknown. Hints Search along open roads and in patches of bare ground. Scan aggregations of feeding ground-doves. Take care to avoid confusion with the sympatric Ruddy Ground-dove C. talpacoti and Plain-breasted Ground-dove C. minuta.


Text account compilers
Benstead, P., Bird, J., Butchart, S., Capper, D., Sharpe, C J, Symes, A. & Ashpole, J

Whittaker, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2019) Species factsheet: Columbina cyanopis. Downloaded from on 13/11/2019. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2019) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 13/11/2019.