Chestnut-bellied Cotinga Doliornis remseni


Justification of Red List Category
This species is classified as Vulnerable for a combination of reasons. Numbers are suspected to be small, and declines in range and population are likely owing to continuing habitat loss and degradation. It is known from a few widely spread locations and occupies a small range: its fragmented habitat is restricted to a narrow altitudinal band.

Population justification
The population is estimated to number 2,500-9,999 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 3,750-14,999 individuals, rounded here to 3,500-15,000 individuals.

Trend justification
The decline in Colombia is estimated to be 78% during 1992-2002, based on rates of habitat loss (Renjifo et al. 2002). The decline in Ecuador remains unquantified, but the overall rate is likely to be at least 30-49% over ten years.

Distribution and population

Doliornis remseni was first recorded in 1989, and is now known from at least nine localities in the East Andes of Ecuador and the Central Andes of Colombia. As yet there are no known records from Peru, but it is likely to occur there. Known localities are: Cañon del Quindío Nature Reserve (Quindío), Colombia; Guandera (Carchi), Cerro Mongus (Carchi), Llanganates National Park (Tungurahua/Pastaza/Cotopaxi/Napo), Gualaceo-Limón (Morona-Santiago), Cajanuma-Podocarpus National Park (Loja/Zamora-Chinchipe), and the Cordillera de Lagunillas - Cajamarca (Zamora-Chinchipe), Ecuador (Renjifo 1994, Robbins et al. 1994b, N. Krabbe in litt. 1999, J. F. Freile in litt. 2004, Freile and Santander 2005, Henry 2008, Jiguet et al. 2010). There is also an unconfirmed report from the Cotopaxi National Park (Cotopaxi) but it has not been found here subsequently (M. Honick in litt. 2003, Freile and Santander 2005, Henry 2008). It occurs at low densities with 0.3 individuals found per 10 km of transect in Colombia (Renjifo 1994), and the total Colombian population has been estimated at up to 1,950 individuals (Renjifo et al. 2002). However, it is probably under-recorded owing to its soft call and occurrence in remote areas (Henry 2008). 


This secretive species is confined to dense thickets on the páramo-forest ecotone at elevations of 2,875-3,650 m. Typical habitat in Ecuador consists of dense, moist montane forest comprising trees 5-10 m tall, heavily covered with epiphytes, mosses and lichens and interspersed with thick bushes (Robbins et al. 1994b, Henry 2008). In Ecuador, most records are from the crown of Escallonia spp., but these trees are not a common feature of treeline forest in Peru (Robbins et al. 1994) which may explain the lack of records from there. Escallonia seeds and a large, unidentified fruit were taken from specimens, and Miconia chlorocarpa fruit are eaten in Colombia (Renjifo 1994, Robbins et al. 1994b). Basic ecology, including food and breeding biology, largely unknown (Kirwan and Green 2011, Snow and Sharpe 2015).


Timberline habitats in the Andes have been diminishing for millennia, primarily through human use of fire (Kessler and Herzog 1998). Pre-Columbian sustainable land-use systems were largely replaced with unsustainable agricultural techniques during the colonial period (Kessler and Herzog 1998). Regular burning of páramo grassland adjacent to elfin forest, to promote the growth of fresh shoots for livestock, has lowered the treeline by several hundred metres. Large areas of suitable habitat have been, and continue to be, destroyed in this way (Kessler and Herzog 1998). In Colombia, less than 10% of original timberline habitat is estimated to remain, and the degree of human pressure is currently increasing (P. G. W. Salaman in litt. 1999). Recent estimates of loss of habitat in Colombia are as high as 78% in the last 10 years (Renjifo et al. 2002), but significant quantities of continuous habitat remain in Ecuador (J. F. Freile in litt. 2004). Grazing and regular burning take place, even within some of the protected areas in its projected range (Wege and Long 1995, Henry 2008). Other threats include firewood-gathering and potato cultivation (P. G. W. Salaman in litt. 1999).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
It has been recorded in Podocarpus National Park, Guandera Biological Reserve (Cresswell et al. 1999) Llanganates National Park (Henry 2008), and possibly Cotopaxi National Park (M. Honick in litt. 2003), Ecuador, and Cañon del Quindío Nature Reserve, Colombia (Renjifo 1994, Robbins et al. 1994b). A community initiative aims to protect the forested watershed on Cerro Mongus (Wege and Long 1995).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Conduct surveys to clarify its status, distribution and annual ecological requirements. Improve land-use management by segregating agricultural, grazing and forest areas (Fjeldså and Kessler 1996). Regulate the use of fire (Fjeldså and Kessler 1996). Reintroduce old, high-yielding agricultural techniques (Fjeldså and Kessler 1996). Educate and encourage local people to take a leading role in land-use management and restoration schemes (Fjeldså and Kessler 1996).


21.5 cm. Largely dark cotinga with very obvious rich rufous-chestnut on underparts. Male has upperparts, including tail and wings, largely very dark grey-black, with semi-concealed orange-red crest and black rest of crown contrasting with face. Deep rufous-chestnut underparts, from lower breast to undertail-coverts. Female very similar, but crown greyer and less contrasting with rest of head, and has slight spectacled appearance owing to black lores. Similar spp. Bay-vented Cotinga D. sclateri is similar, but paler overall with less rich underparts colouration confined to undertail-coverts.


Text account compilers
Benstead, P., Capper, D., Harding, M., Isherwood, I., Sharpe, C J, Stuart, T., Symes, A., Taylor, J.

Honick, M., Freile, J., Salaman, P., Henry, P.Y.H., Krabbe, N.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2021) Species factsheet: Doliornis remseni. Downloaded from on 07/12/2021. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2021) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 07/12/2021.