Ecuadorian Piedtail Phlogophilus hemileucurus


Justification of Red List category

This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be decreasing, although the rate of decline does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size has not been quantified, but it is not believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.

Population justification
The global population size has not been quantified, but this species is described as 'uncommon' (Stotz et al. 1996).

Trend justification
The species is undergoing a slow population decline owed to slow habitat loss. Tree cover loss is considered to be low within the species' range, amounting to less than 5% over 10 years (Global Forest Watch 2021, using Hansen et al. [2013] data and methods disclosed therein). The species also readily occurs in altered habitats, provided that surrounding areas are forest patches or secondary growth forests (Schuchmann et al. 2020). However, given that the species may still be impacted by low levels of habitat destruction, the species is suspected to be declining at a rate of 1-9% over 10 years.

Distribution and population

Phlogophilus hemileucurus is locally uncommon to common in the Andean foothills of south-west Colombia (west Putumayo, east Cauca, and possibly extending further north of the Caquetá River [Gómez-Bernal et al. 2016]), east Ecuador (west Napo south to Zamora-Chinchipe) and north-east Peru (San Martín and Loreto) at 800-1,500 m, but as low as 400 m in Peru (Hilty and Brown 1986, Sibley and Monroe 1990, Parker et al. 1996, P. G. W. Salaman in litt. 1999, Clements and Shany 2001, Ridgely and Greenfield 2001). Due to agricultural and urban development, the presence of the species further north of the Caquetá River in Colombia requires confirmation (Gómez-Bernal et al. 2016). 


It occurs in premontane and montane evergreen forest (Parker et al. 1996, P. G. W. Salaman in litt. 1999), primarily on low, outlying ridges (Schulenberg et al. 2007) and accepts altered habitats as long as forest patches and thickets of secondary growth remain (del Hoyo et al. 1999, Schuchmann et al. 2020). It occurs at elevations between 400-1,200 m (Schuchmann et al. 2020). The species feeds on the nectar of flowers, including flowers from Rubiaceae, Ericaceae (especially Psammisia), and Gesneriaceae species (Schuchmann et al. 2020). It may also feed on insects occasionally. Breeding occurs between December and April (Schuchmann et al. 2020).


Much of its habitat is under pressure from agriculture and cattle pasture, low-intensity farming, tea and coffee growing, mining operations and logging (Dinerstein et al. 1995). Lower connectivity between adjoining areas (particularly within its range in Colombia) are also considered to locally impact the species (Gómez-Bernal et al. 2016). 

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
CITES Appendix II. It occurs in protected areas, including the Ecuador-Peru East Andes EBA (Schuchmann et al. 2020). 

Conservation Actions Proposed
Attempt to obtain an accurate estimate of its population size and trends. Search for the species in potentially suitable habitat at new sites. Study its ecology and its ability to persist in degraded and fragmented habitats. Monitor populations at strongholds. Quantify the extent of habitat losses.
Effectively protect significant areas of suitable habitat at key sites, in both strictly protected areas and community led multiple use areas.


Text account compilers
Fernando, E.

Benstead, P., Capper, D., Salaman, P.G.W., Sharpe, C.J., Symes, A. & Wiedenfeld, D.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2024) Species factsheet: Phlogophilus hemileucurus. Downloaded from on 28/02/2024.
Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2024) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 28/02/2024.