Caatinga Antwren Herpsilochmus sellowi


Justification of Red List Category
This species is listed as Least Concern as it does not approach the thresholds for any of the IUCN criteria; however, monitoring of the species's population and its habitats are recommended given the prevalence of on-going threats.

Population justification
The population size is unknown, but the species is described as uncommon to fairly common.

Trend justification
Current data on population trends are lacking, but declines are suspected to be occurring, owing to habitat loss.

Distribution and population

Herpsilochmus sellowi occurs in interior north-east Brazil, being recorded from Barra do Corda in central Maranhão, Serra do Cachimbo in south Pará, Chapada de Araripe and Várzea Formosa in Ceará, and several localities in central and south Bahia (Ridgely and Tudor 1994) and north Minas Gerais (Raposo 1997, de Vasconcelos et al. 2006). It is described as very common in some areas (C. Albano in litt. 2010).


This species is reported to be localised in occurrence, and inhabits caatinga scrub and deciduous woodland up to 1,000 m.


The relatively small number of known localities is combined with general disturbance of its habitat - the extent of agricultural expansion, grazing and burning is testimony to the prevalence of human pressure throughout its range (Stattersfield et al. 1998). Human population pressure has increased within the range since the 1970s: the Brazilian oil company, Petrobrás, has built roads into the caatinga providing access for the settlement of new areas, and government agencies have relocated many families to the region (Hart 1991). This has been one contributory factor in the increase in agricultural expansion, grazing and burning in caatinga habitats. The species's occurrence in secondary habitats (C. Albano in litt. 2010), however, suggests that it is tolerant of some habitat degradation.

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
No targeted actions are known but the species occurs in several protected areas.

Conservation Actions Proposed
Repeat surveys of known sites to determine rates of range contraction and population trends. Conduct surveys of suitable habitats within and surrounding the known range to determine its true distribution and abundance. Ensure that remaining areas of pristine caatinga habitat receive adequate protection.


Size: 12 cm. Summary: A long-tailed well marked canopy Antwren. Id: Male: black crown bordered by white supercilium, with black post-ocular eye-stripe; grey nape; grey back with semiconcealed white dorsal patch; black wings with large white covert tips forming two wing bars, white spotting on the shoulders and fringing to flight feathers; tail black boldly tipped white; underparts white. Female differs in having oliveacous upperparts with a buff forehead and black crown, streaked broadly white; buff tinge on underparts. Similar: Pileated Antwren H. pileatus is smaller with a shorter tail; male also has a grey not white supercilium and lacks the black post-ocular line; female lacks white streaking on the crown (has some grey scalloping on sides), forehead is greyish, buffy grey on face lacking supercilium and post-ocular stripe. Hints: Forages at all heights, usually in pairs; not difficult to see. Voice: A semimusical accelerating trill, becoming louder and more spluttered; often with an introductory note; often as a duet male first then echoed by female.



Text account compilers
Taylor, J., Gilroy, J., Butchart, S.

Whitney, B., Albano, C.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2021) Species factsheet: Herpsilochmus sellowi. Downloaded from on 20/10/2021. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2021) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 20/10/2021.