Fringe-backed Fire-eye Pyriglena atra


Justification of Red List Category
This species qualifies as Endangered as it has a very small fragmented range, within which the extent and quality of its habitat are continuing to decline, and where it is only known from a few locations (Collar et al. 1992).

Population justification
The population is estimated to number 1,000-2,499 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 667-1,666 mature individuals, rounded here to 600-1,700 mature individuals.

Trend justification
A very rapid continuing population decline is suspected owing to rates of habitat loss.

Distribution and population

Pyriglena atra is known from the narrow belt of Atlantic forest in the vicinity of Salvador, coastal Bahia (west of the town of Santo Amaro), including forest patches along the Linha Verde highway, from Saubara north to southern Sergipe (in the vicinity of Crasto and Santa Luzia de Itanhi [Pacheco and Whitney 1995, J. Minns in litt. 1998, B. M. Whitney in litt. 1999, J. Mazar Barnett in litt. 2000]), Brazil. Recent fieldwork has shown that this distribution is not as disjunct as previously thought, as the species occurs in the remaining forest and secondary-growth patches along the northern coast of Bahia at Conde and Jandaíra (Souza 2002). Substantial habitat loss must have significantly reduced the population, but its preference for dense secondary growth means its range, whilst still small, is likely to have been underestimated.


It inhabits the tangled undergrowth of lowland forest at 20-250 m, where it appears to favour second growth and other semi-open habitats with horizontal perches near the ground. In 1974, the species was very common at Santo Amaro in tall second growth, uncommon in tall forest, and rare in patches of second growth where most of the undergrowth had been removed (Willis and Oniki 1982). It has been found in fragments of around 50 ha, but disappeared with two years when one area was reduced from 150-200 ha to 400 ha (S. Sampaio in litt. 2003, 2007). It is found in pairs and small groups of up to 26, rarely joining mixed-species flocks, but regularly following army-ant swarms. Breeding appears to occur between October and March. 


Habitat loss within its known range has been substantial, even of the second growth in which it appears to be most abundant. It has been reported more frequently from larger forest fragments (S. Sampaio in litt. 2003, 2007), and remaining tracts are destined to become ever smaller and more isolated.

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
It is considered Endangered at the national level (Silveira and Straube 2008, MMA 2014) and protected under Brazilian law.

Conservation Actions Proposed
Protect the patches of forest at localities in the vicinity of Santa Luzia de Itanhi. Survey all suitable habitat within range to establish occurrence. Investigate its ecological requirements.


17.5 cm. Red-eyed antbird. Male uniformly black. White dorsal patch formed by white bases to feathers, black subterminal band and broad, white fringes. Female rufous-brown above. Blackish tail. Grey-based interscapular feathers. Dull buffy-brown underparts with whitish throat. Similar spp. Both sexes similar to other Pyriglena fire-eyes, but none occurs sympatrically. Males can be distinguished by pattern of interscapular patch and alarm calls. Voice Song is series of slightly descending, whistled fíu notes, similar to other Pyriglena spp. Alarm call, a loud, prolonged, chipping peerit, rising at end.


Text account compilers
Benstead, P., Clay, R., Harding, M., Mazar Barnett, J., Sharpe, C J, Symes, A., Williams, R.

Sampaio, S., Minns, J., Whitney, B., Mazar Barnett, J.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Species factsheet: Pyriglena atra. Downloaded from http://datazone.birdlife.org/species/factsheet/fringe-backed-fire-eye-pyriglena-atra on 10/06/2023. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2023) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://datazone.birdlife.org on 10/06/2023.