Justification of Red List Category
This species is now thought to be undergoing a rapid population decline as a result of the destruction and conversion of cerrado habitats for human use. It has therefore been uplisted to Vulnerable.
The global population size has not been quantified, but this species is described as 'uncommon and patchily distributed' (Stotz et al. 1996).
The population is suspected to have declined rapidly owing to continued habitat destruction and degradation within its range.
Geositta poeciloptera occurs within interior south-central Brazil (from São Paulo, where it is now considered extinct, north to Minas Gerais, Goiás and Mato Grosso), north-east Bolivia (north-east Santa Cruz in the Serranía de Huanchaca), and a specimen was collected in Paraguay in 1938 (Sick 1993, Ridgely and Tudor 1994, J. M. Bates in litt. 1999). Although it may be locally common in places such as Serra da Canastra National Park after late dry-season fires, it is generally uncommon and has declined as large areas of cerrado are converted for agriculture, cattle-ranching and plantations. There are no recent records of the species in Paraguay (Lopes et al. 2010, R. Clay in litt. 2016).
It is rare to temporarily relatively common in open campo cerrado, where there are at most a few scattered trees, mainly at 500-1,200 m (Ridgely and Tudor 1994). The species also occupies degraded habitats and agricultural land, even for nesting (Lopes and Peixoto 2018). It is often most numerous on recently burnt terrain, even where the ground is still smoking (Ridgely and Tudor 1994, de Vasconcelos et al. 2004), and has disappeared from some areas of São Paulo owing to a lack of fires in the cerrado (Willis and Oniki 1993).
There has been extensive conversion of cerrado habitats to mechanised agriculture, cattle ranching and plantations of non-native tree species (da Silva 1995, Parker and Willis 1997). Two thirds of cerrado habitats had been moderately or extensively altered by 1993 (Conservation International 1999), with most destruction having occurred since 1950 (Cavalcanti 1999). Suppression of fires on cerrado caused the disappearance of this species from some areas of São Paulo. Open cerrados on flat ground (such as plateau tops) are prime sites for conversion so this species may have suffered particularly badly. It does not adapt to artificial grasslands/pastures and is not found in frequently-burned savannas (L. E. Lopes in litt. 2009).
Conservation Actions Underway
It has been recorded recently in Brasília, Chapada dos Veadeiros, Serra da Canastra and Emas National Parks (I. P de Faria in litt. 2009). Formerly considered Vulnerable at the national level (Silveira and Straube 2008), it is now designated Endangered under Brazilian legislation (MMA 2014).
Size: 12.5 cm. Summary: A short-tailed and often tame yet inconspicuous terrestrial bird. Id: Mainly fawn brown with buff supercilium and white throat. Wings dusky with rufous secondaries and band in primaries, especially noticeable in flight; pinkish-chestnut underwing coverts. Tail rufous (except central feathers which are dusky) with broad black subterminal band. Similar: No other miner occurs sympatrically; the larger Rufous Hornero Furnarius rufus (20 cm) is browner and more uniform and lacks a supercillium, rufous in the wing and band in the tail. Hints: Often frequents short grass and recently burnt areas. Voice: Male sings while hovering c. 50 m above the ground giving a repeated semi-musical zhliip or zh-zh-zh-leép.
Text account compilers
Symes, A., Hermes, C., Capper, D., Mahood, S., Butchart, S., O'Brien, A., Gilroy, J., Pilgrim, J., Sharpe, C.J.
Paula de Faria, I., Clay, R.P., Lopes, L., Olmos, F., Bates, J.
BirdLife International (2019) Species factsheet: Geositta poeciloptera. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 14/11/2019. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2019) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 14/11/2019.