Chestnut-capped Piha Lipaugus weberi


Justification of Red List category
This species is Critically Endangered. It has a very small population and remaining forest continues to be degraded and destroyed, therefore its population is likely to be declining.

Population justification
The population size has not been quantified however estimates range from fewer than 2,500 individuals (del Hoyo et al. 2004) to fewer than 250 individuals (Cuervo 2014). It is precautionarily placed in the band 50-249 individuals.

Trend justification
The population is suspected to be in moderate decline owing to on-going habitat destruction. According to Cuervo (2014), a combination of rapid deforestation and fragmentation suggests the population could decrease by 30% in ten years.

Distribution and population

This species is confined to a small area of forest (c. 800 km2) on the northern slope of the Central Andes in Colombia (Cuervo et al. 2001), it had been known from just five locations (Renjifo et al. 2002) however it is now known from 16 sites (Cuervo et al. 2008, Cuervo 2014, Sharpe 2015, Snow and Sharpe 2015). The area lies between the Porce and Nechí river valleys, where it is presently known from four localities in the Municipality of Anorí (Cuervo et al. 2001). The species was considered to be locally common at the known localities in Anorí, especially between 1,600 and 1,750 m  (Cuervo et al. 2001, Renjifo et al. 2002). It is much less common near Amalfi, presumably because the forests in this area have been subject to exploitation for a longer period of time (Renjifo et al. 2002).


It inhabits primary pre-montane, wet forest between 1,500 and 1,820 m (Cuervo et al. 2001). It has been seen at forest borders and in secondary vegetation near mountain gorges, but usually not within secondary forest (Cuervo et al. 2001, Renjifo et al. 2002). Birds occur singly within the midstorey to lower canopy, and are sometimes observed in mixed-species flocks in the higher levels of the canopy (Renjifo et al. 2002). It feeds on small to medium-sized berries and, occasionally, large invertebrates (Cuervo et al. 2001, Snow and Sharpe 2015).


The Central Andes have undergone almost complete ecological change - surviving forested areas are now highly fragmented and isolated. Pre-montane forest cover is estimated to be 3-4% of its original extent (Cuervo et al. 2001). The species is presumed to have been extirpated from a large part of its range (Renjifo et al. 2002), with almost 9% of habitat lost between 2000 and 2010 (Cuervo 2014). Forest loss is driven by mining and agriculture, in particular coffee, plantain and cattle (Cuervo et al. 2001, Renjifo et al. 2002). While until recently political instability hampered human activities in the area, the current stability favours high rates of colonization, which likely increases deforestation in the area (Fundación ProAves 2011). Construction of several major hydro-electric dams within the species's range threatens remaining habitat as does the development of road networks and gold mining and exploration (Fundación ProAves 2011). High acidity and poor soil drainage reduce vegetation succession and accentuate problems of soil erosion (Renjifo et al. 2002). Afforestation with exotic species is an increasing problem in the area (Cuervo et al. 2001). The species can only tolerate habitat fragmentation if the remaining fragments are large (> 70 ha) and interconnected (Cuervo et al. 2008). Climate change is feared to put another strain on the species, as its climatically suitable range is projected to disappear by the year 2050 (Velásquez-Tibatá et al. 2012).

Conservation actions

Conservation and Research Actions Underway
The species is classified as Critically Endangered in Colombia and listed as the eighth most threatened species in Colombia (Cuervo 2014, Fundación ProAves 2014, D. Lebbin in litt. 2015). La Reserva Natural La Forzosa, a fragment of pristine forest of 4.5 km2 between 1,500 and 1,820 m, has been designated following an ornithological exploration of the area (Cuervo et al. 2001, Renjifo et al. 2002). 1,310 acres of forest were purchased by the American Bird Conservancy to be managed by Fundación ProAves as the Arrierito Antioqueño Bird Reserve in 2006 (Anon 2006/2007). It is also found in La Serrana and Caracolí-Guayabito reserves (Cuervo 2014). These reserves protect a suite of bird species of conservation concern in addition to L. weberi (Sharpe 2015).

 and Research Actions Proposed
Conduct detailed surveys to determine the extent of its distribution, population status, and genetic variation and exchange between the Amalfi and Anorí populations (Renjifo et al. 2002). Develop a management plan for the species. Pursue the protection of remaining pre-montane forest fragments in the region, particularly those persisting in the Riachón river valley in Amalfi (Renjifo et al. 2002). Control exploitation of palms and other forest resources. Encourage the local government to acquire land between 1,200 and 1,600 m for future protected areas. Encourage alternative technologies for the use of the land, and campaign to prevent the conversion of forests to pastures (Renjifo et al. 2002). There remain some large intact and potentially suitable subtropical forest areas in eastern and southeastern Antioquia. Conservation efforts in these areas may prove more practical and probably reveal healthy populations of this and other threatened species (Salaman in litt. 2003, Sharpe 2015). Protect Bosque El Guayabito from deforestation (Fundación ProAves in litt. 2012). Connect fragmented habitats where the species is known to occur (Snow and Sharpe 2015).


24 cm. Adults have uniform grey plumage, apart from a chestnut-brown crown and cinnamon undertail coverts. The bill is black, and there is an obvious complete yellow orbital ring. Juveniles show rufous fringes to the flight feathers and greater coverts. Similar spp. Most closely resembles Dusky Piha L. fuscocinereus, although the latter species is larger, has a grey crown, and lacks the yellow orbital ring. Voice A loud piercing sreeck.


Text account compilers
Benstead, P., O'Brien, A., Sharpe, C.J., Ashpole, J, Symes, A., Hermes, C., Taylor, J., Wege, D.

Lebbin, D., Cuervo, A., Sharpe, C J, Donegan, T., Salaman, P., Cortés, O., Fundación ProAves

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Species factsheet: Lipaugus weberi. Downloaded from on 28/11/2023.
Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2023) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 28/11/2023.