VU
Golden Swallow Tachycineta euchrysea



Justification

Justification of Red List Category
This species has a small, fragmented and declining range and population, and consequently qualifies as Vulnerable. It has declined massively since the nineteenth century, but the rate of decline has slowed with its increasing rarity.

Population justification
The population is estimated to number 2,500-9,999 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 1,667-6,666 mature individuals, rounded here to 1,500-7,000 mature individuals.

Trend justification
Population trends have shown evidence of decline over the past few decades, owing to habitat loss and degradation from shifting agriculture and predation by invasive mammals (Dod 1992, Keith 2003, Townsend 2006).  No data area available to estimate recent population trends, but the species is suspected to be declining at a slow to moderate rate, though some localized populations may have recently stabilized (Rimmer 2004).

Distribution and population

Tachycineta euchrysea is known from the Greater Antilles. The nominate subspecies of Jamaica is probably extinct, having not been recorded since 1989 (Raffaele et al. 1998, D. Wege in litt. 2011, Graves 2014, J. Hornbuckle in litt. 2014, C.J. Proctor in litt. 2015). It was known from Colfax County and the Blue Mts (Raffaele et al. 1998, BirdLife Jamaica in litt. 1998). The race sclateri is locally common in Haiti and the Dominican Republic, especially in the Cordillera Central, Sierra de Bahoruco (Turner and Rose 1989, Dod 1992), Massif de la Hotte (Rimmer et al. 2005) and Massif de la Selle (Dávalos and Brooks 2001). The populations of both subspecies have declined dramatically (King 1981, Downer 1982, Raffaele et al. 1998) and the species is thought to be increasingly restricted to isolated remnant patches of montane forest dominated by Hispaniolan pine (Pinus occidentalis) (Keith et al. 2003, Latta et al. 2006, Townsend et al. 2008).

Ecology

It nests in montane humid and pine forests, at elevations of 800-2,000 m on Hispaniola, but (primarily in winter) to sea-level on Jamaica. It has been found in good secondary forest on Jamaica, and sometimes feeds over cane-fields and open country (Osburn 1858, Stattersfield et al. 1998, BirdLife Jamaica in litt. 1998). Nests are traditionally built in old woodpecker and other holes in dead pines, but have been recorded in caves (Osburn 1869), boulders in an old bauxite mine (Townsend et al. 2008, G. M. Kirwan in litt. 1998) and in the eaves of buildings (Wetmore and Lincoln 1933). Six nests in an abandoned bauxite mine in the Sierra de Baoruco contained 2-4 eggs, and hatchlings took 21-24 days to fledge; half of these nests were predated (Townsend et al. 2008). It flies in singles or small groups, feeding on small insects (Osburn 1858, 1869). Birds forage over Hispaniolan pine Pinus occidentalis and mixed pine-broadleaf forests, and occasionally open agricultural areas and natural savannahs (Townsend et al. 2008).

Threats

Shifting agriculture has caused severe forest loss and fragmentation on Hispaniola (Raffaele et al. 1998, Stattersfield et al. 1998). Reasons for declines in Jamaica are unknown (Raffaele et al. 1998), but habitat loss and predation by introduced mammalian predators, particularly the black rat Rattus rattus has been implicated (Graves 2014). Competition for nest-sites with introduced Common Starling Sturnus vulgaris has been suggested as a possible cause (King 1981, Turner and Rose 1989) but this is unlikely, as starlings only occur at lower elevations (BirdLife Jamaica in litt. 1998).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
It is legally protected in Jamaica (Turner and Rose 1989). Remaining forest in Cockpit Country is mostly protected, and habitat in the Blue and John Crow Mts is a national park (BirdLife Jamaica in litt. 1998). These reserves are not managed and habitat protection is inadequate (Stattersfield et al. 1998), but funding is actively being sought for the effective conservation of Cockpit Country (BirdLife Jamaica in litt. 1998). Montane forest is poorly represented in the Dominican Republic's protected-areas system (Stattersfield et al. 1998), but 15 new areas have been recently proposed, including six in montane forest. In Haiti, it occurs in both La Visite and Macaya national parks (Woods and Ottenwalder 1986).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Survey to identify breeding sites throughout its range (BirdLife Jamaica in litt. 1998). Officially designate the proposed protected areas in the Dominican Republic (Turner and Rose 1989). Consider the provision of carefully designed and sited nest-boxes (Turner and Rose 1989, Townsend et al. 2008). Design and implement management plans for key reserves.

Identification

12 cm. Iridescent, bronzy green-and-white swallow. Upperparts (including ear-coverts, malar area and chin) shining bronzy-green (most bronze on mantle), with darker, dusky bronzy-green primaries and tail. White underparts. Female sometimes lightly mottled grey-brown below. Juvenile less glossy and more mottled below with dusky grey sides of head. Voice Soft, two-note tchee weet. Hints Often flies low over the ground, darting after insects.

Acknowledgements

Text account compilers
Capper, D., Khwaja, N., Mahood, S., Pople, R., Wege, D., Sharpe, C J, Wheatley, H.

Contributors
Wege, D., Kirwan, G., Townsend, J.


Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2019) Species factsheet: Tachycineta euchrysea. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 15/12/2019. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2019) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 15/12/2019.