Giant Conebill Conirostrum binghami


Justification of Red List category
This species is listed as Near Threatened, as it is suspected to be declining moderately rapidly owing to habitat loss and fragmentation throughout its range. Exact data on population trends are lacking however, and populations should be monitored carefully for any changes in the rate of decline.

Population justification
The global population size has not been quantified, but the species is described as uncommon and patchily distributed (Mason and Burns 2020). Due to its disjunct range, it is tentatively assessed as forming at least five subpopulations.

Trend justification
Data on precise population trends are lacking, but this rare and habitat-restricted species is suspected to be in moderate decline owing to the ongoing destruction of Polylepis woodlands throughout its range (Cahill and Matthysen 2007; Mason and Burns 2020).

Distribution and population

The species occurs locally within a relatively large range in Polylepis woodlands of the high Andes (Vuilleumier 1984; Ridgely and Tudor 1989; Fjeldså and Krabbe 1990). It is found from southwestern Colombia (Nariño) to Ecuador (Pichincha to Azuay), Peru (Ancash to Puno and Tacna) and west Bolivia (La Paz, Cochabamba, Potosí) (Hilty and Brown 1986; Armonía 1995; Best et al. 1996; Clements 1998), and was recently recorded in northern Chile and Argentina (Howell and Webb 1995; Mazar Barnett et al. 1998).


This species is restricted to Polylepis woodland, which is now highly fragmented (Ridgely and Tudor 1989; Benham et al. 2011). It occurs at 2,700-4,850 m (Mason and Burns 2020), usually above the timberline, but is not numerous even in apparently optimal habitat (Ridgely and Tudor 1989). It is highly dependent on stands of Polylepis with dense canopies and tall trees, and may be limited to larger patches due to an avoidance of the dense foliage found in woodland edge habitats (Cahill et al. 2006; Cahill and Matthysen 2007). Nests are sited in the interior of forest fragments, and breeding takes place from October to December (Cahill et al. 2008).


The species suffers from the destruction and fragmentation of Polylepis woodland as a result of uncontrolled use of fire, firewood collection, intense grazing particularly by sheep and cattle, unsound agricultural techniques and afforestation with exotic tree species (especially Eucalyptus) (Fjeldså and Kessler 1996).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
None are known.

Conservation Actions Proposed
Quantify the population size. Monitor populations at known sites and repeat surveys throughout the range to determine the rate of population decline.
Protect remaining Polylepis woodlands. Establish appropriate reforestation programmes. Manage existing Polylepis woodlands by minimizing grazing and fire near fragments, and by controlling wood extraction.


Text account compilers
Hermes, C.

Gilroy, J., O'Brien, A. & Sharpe, C.J.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Species factsheet: Conirostrum binghami. Downloaded from http://datazone.birdlife.org/species/factsheet/giant-conebill-conirostrum-binghami on 27/09/2023. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2023) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://datazone.birdlife.org on 27/09/2023.