Ceara Gnateater Conopophaga cearae


Justification of Red List Category
This species's population size has not been estimated, but is suspected to be small, and may be very small. The largest subpopulation may also be very small. The population is inferred to be undergoing a slow decline due to ongoing forest loss and degradation, largely through conversion to agriculture. For these reasons, the species is listed as Near Threatened.

Population justification
The species is considered common at a few sites, but generally rare at most sites (Greeney 2018). It is quite common throughout the Serra de Baturité (Albano and Girão 2008, B. Whitney in litt., in Greeney 2018). In Alagoas, the species was found in only three (20%) of 15 surveyed forest fragments (Silveira et al. 2003).

No direct estimates of the population size or density are available. Based on the first quartile and median population densities of congeners (2.4 and 3.7 individuals per km2, respectively, based on density estimates for C. aurita and C. peruviana; Thiollay 1986, Terborgh et al. 1990), the estimated area of tree cover with at least 50% canopy cover within the species's mapped range in 2020 (c.9,900 km2; Global Forest Watch 2021), and assuming the tree cover to be 10-30% occupied, the population size is here tentatively suspected to fall within the range 2,400 - 11,000 individuals, roughly equating to 1,500 - 7,400 mature individuals, with a best estimate placed at 3,200 mature individuals (based on the first quartile density and 20% occupancy).

The subpopulation structure is not known, but based on its distribution, the species is assumed to have between three and 20 subpopulations. The size of the largest subpopulation is not known, but may be very small, and is here tentatively suspected to fall within the band 200 - 3,900 mature individuals, with the minimum based on the estimated area of tree cover on the Serra de Baturité, the first quartile density of a congener and assuming 50% habitat occupancy, and the maximum based on the estimated tree cover within the mapped range in the Chapada Diamantina region, the median density of a congener and assuming 30% habitat occupancy.

Trend justification
There have been no recent records at forest fragments where the species was previously recorded in Ceará, Paraíba, Pernambuco and Alagoas, suggesting local extinctions (D. Mendes Lima in litt. 2021). Remote-sensing data on tree cover loss indicates that approximately 4% of tree cover with at least 50% canopy cover was lost from within the species's mapped range over the past decade from 2010-2020 (Global Forest Watch 2021). This species tolerates some forest degradation and also occurs in restinga scrub, which may not be included in the forest loss data. However, the species generally occurs close to intact habitat, so it is precautionarily inferred that the species's population size is declining. The rate of decline may be exacerbated by habitat degradation. The species is suspected to be declining slowly at a rate of up to 10% over ten years.

Distribution and population

This species occurs in northern Ceará, south to Bahia, Brazil. The species has a patchy distribution in three distinct areas: i) the Serra de Baturité and Serra do Machado in northern Ceará; ii) Rio Grande do Norte south to Alagoas; and iii) the Chapada Diamantina region of northern-central Bahia. It may also occur in the Aratanha, Maranguape and Uruburetama serras in Ceará, but these areas have not been adequately surveyed.


It occurs in upland, mainly evergreen forest, including forest edges. In Rio Grande do Norte it also occurs in coastal restinga scrub (Olmos 2003, Greeney 2018). In the Serra de Baturité it is often found near bamboo thickets (Greeney 2018). Although it occurs near sea level in Rio Grande do Norte and Pernambuco, it mostly occurs above 300 m (Greeney 2018). It tolerates degraded habitat close to intact forest (Albano and Girão 2008, del Hoyo et al. 2016).


The species is threatened by habitat loss, largely through conversion to agriculture and grazing (CEMAVE 2018).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
It occurs in several protected areas. It is included in the National Action Plan for the Conservation of the Birds of the Atlantic Forest (ICMBio 2017), and the National Action Plan for the Conservation of the Birds of the Caatinga (ICMBio 2015).

Conservation Actions Proposed

Survey known populations to gain estimates of the population density and population size. Monitor populations to ascertain trend. Survey further areas of potentially occupied habitat to gain knowledge of the species's distribution. Study the impact of habitat degradation.

Enforce existing protected areas and create further protected areas where the species occurs. Protect and restore habitat, especially in corridors between remaining fragments where the species is present. Enforce legislation against habitat destruction.


Text account compilers
Wheatley, H.

Butchart, S., Derhé, M., Ekstrom, J., Phalan, B. & Mendes Lima, D.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Species factsheet: Conopophaga cearae. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 22/03/2023. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2023) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 22/03/2023.