Justification of Red List Category
This species is very rare with only few recent records, suggesting that the total population is extremely small. A continuing decline is inferred from rapid rates of habitat loss in the region. These factors qualify the species as Critically Endangered.
The population is estimated to number c.110-260 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 equates to approximately 70-180 mature individuals, placed here in the band 50-249 mature individuals.
This species has historically been rare, although the reasons behind this apparent rarity are not understood. However, it has only been recorded from one locality in recent years and is suspected to be declining owing to widespread habitat loss within its range.
Columbina cyanopis is known from very few localities over a wide range in the interior of Brazil. The species has been recorded in the Serra das Araras, Mato Grosso in 1986 and 2007 (da Silva and Oniki 1988, Valadão 2012), but searches here in 2010 and 2011 failed to encounter the species (SAVE Brasil 2010, 2011). In 2015, the species was recorded at a site in Minas Gerais, and a subsequent expedition in 2016 recorded up to 12 individuals and obtained photographs and voice recordings (Baptista et al. 2016, de Castro 2016). In 2019 a new population was found in Botumirim State Park in Minas Gerais. 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.
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.
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). The cerrado habitat may also be altered by climate change, which poses a further threat to the species (Şekercioğlu et al. 2012).
Conservation Actions Underway
Legally designated as Critically Endangered at the national level in Brazil (Instituto Chico Mendes de Conservação da Biodiversidade 2018). It is protected under Brazilian law, and has been recorded in Serra das Araras Ecological Station, although there are no records from here since 2007. National parks encompass relatively large areas of potentially suitable cerrado grassland habitat. SAVE Brasil and Rainforest Trust acquired 593 hectares of land and created a protected area to conserve the species's habitat at Botumirim, Minas Gerais (SAVE Brasil 2018a). SAVE Brasil has launched a project to conserve the population at this site, which includes research, searching for new populations, environmental education and the promotion of tourism, especially bird-watching (SAVE Brasil 2018b). Following this, Botumirim State Park was established to protect 36,000 ha, including all of the known population of Blue-eyed Ground-dove (SAVE Brasil 2018c). A species action plan is being formulated (SAVE Brasil 2018d).
Conservation Actions Proposed
Monitor the size and trends of the population at Botumirim. Survey the Serra das Araras to locate and determine the size of any remaining 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, Serra de Ricardo Franco State Park, other chapadas in Mato Grosso and the still extensive open cerrados along the Tocantins/Goiás border (F. Olmos in litt. 2005), 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. Protect the remaining habitat within the species's known range. Enforce protection measures at the new private reserve and state park at Botumirim.
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
Ashpole, J, Sharpe, C.J., Benstead, P., Symes, A., Wheatley, H., Bird, J., Butchart, S., Capper, D.
Olmos, F. & Whittaker, A.
BirdLife International (2020) Species factsheet: Columbina cyanopis. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 26/01/2020. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2020) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 26/01/2020.