Golden-backed Mountain-tanager Cnemathraupis aureodorsalis


Justification of Red List Category
This species qualifies as Endangered as its population is now estimated to be very small and declining owing to habitat loss, it is only known from five locations and has a very small range.

Population justification
The population estimate of 250-2,500 mature individuals is derived from G. Engblom (in litt. 2003). This is roughly equivalent to 370-3,800 individuals in total. It described as uncommon to fairly common by Schulenberg et al. (2007).

Trend justification
A moderate and on-going population decline is suspected owing to rates of habitat loss and fragmentation, e.g. its habitat at Bosque Unchog has been reduced by 30-50% in the last 10-15 years (Engblom in litt. 2003).

Distribution and population

Buthraupis aureodorsalis is known from five areas within a restricted range on the Cordillera Central in San Martín, La Libertad and Huánuco, north-central Peru (Engblom in litt. 2003). It presumably occurs in unexplored intervening regions, but has not been found in similar habitat further north in the Cordillera de Colán. It is an uncommon species, and was recorded only three times during 27 days of fieldwork in Río Abiseo National Park, San Martín.


It inhabits elfin forest (especially Escallonia and Clusia) at elevations of 3,000-3,700 m (Schulenberg et al. 2007), particularly favouring large islands of forest surrounded by grassland. It tends to move around in pairs or small groups, foraging mainly in the middle storey, where it feeds on berries, fruit and insects. Brooding females have been collected in September, and juveniles and immatures have been taken in July, October and November.


Elfin forests are vulnerable to grazing and fires spreading out of adjacent páramo grasslands, both of which inhibit forest regeneration and lead to a detrimental lowering of the treeline (Kessler and Herzog 1998). The human population-density within the species's range is low (T. S. Schulenberg in litt. 1999), but its elfin-forest habitat is more seriously threatened than previously thought. Even in remote protected areas such as Río Abiseo National Park the forest is degraded by fires started to provide grazing areas for cattle; all five known sites suffer from this threat (Engblom in litt. 2003).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
It occurs in the Río Abiseo National Park, San Martín.

Conservation Actions Proposed
Survey to better determine its range between and beyond known localities. Determine the extent to which burning of páramo grassland affects this species. Increase the area of suitable habitat that has protected status.


22.5 cm. Large, strikingly plumaged tanager. Black head, breast and back. Dark blue crown and nape. Rest of underparts golden-yellow, mottled chestnut. Chestnut crissum. Orange-yellow upperparts. Black wings and tail. Blue lesser wing-coverts. Thick black bill. Immature has little blue on wing. Voice Song is complex, warbling phrase of whistled and snarling notes. Faint chit, weet and steet calls.


Text account compilers
Benstead, P., Capper, D., Isherwood, I., O'Brien, A., Sharpe, C J, Symes, A.

Schulenberg, T., Engblom, G.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Species factsheet: Cnemathraupis aureodorsalis. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 23/03/2023. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2023) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 23/03/2023.