Greater Crescent-chested Puffbird Malacoptila striata


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 size is very large, and hence does not 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). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.

Population justification
The species's population size and population density have not been directly estimated, but the species has been described as reasonably common (D. Lima in litt. 2020). Based on the minimum and first quartile population densities of congeners (0.65 and 1.5 individuals per km2, respectively), the area of forest with at least 30% canopy cover within the species's mapped range in 2010 (289,000 km2; Global Forest Watch 2020), and assuming that between 25% and 45% of the area of forest is occupied, the population size is suspected to be between the range 107,000 - 193,000 individuals, which roughly equates to 72,000 - 129,000 mature individuals.

Trend justification

Data from Global Forest Watch indicates ongoing deforestation within the species's range (Global Forest Watch 2020). Although the species is tolerant of modified habitats, it is assumed that the ongoing deforestation is affecting the species's population size and the population size is inferred to be undergoing a continuing decline.

Based on data from Global Forest Watch, 7.5% of tree cover with at least 30% canopy cover within the species's range was lost over ten years from 2009-2019 (Global Forest Watch 2020). The species is tolerant of modified habitats and a detailed analysis of forest loss data within a municipality in the Atlantic Forest region has indicated that less than 30% of the area classified as forest loss was correctly classified (Andreacci & Marenzi 2020). The species is suspected to have undergone a population reduction of 1-8% over the past ten years. 

From 2010-2019, the year with the largest amount of tree cover loss within the species's range was 2017, with 3,130 km2 of tree cover loss (Global Forest Watch 2020). If this amount of loss were  to continue over ten years, it would result in 10% tree cover loss over the period. Taking this rate of loss as a worst-case estimate, the species is suspected to undergo a population reduction of 1-10% over the next ten years.

Distribution and population

Malacoptila striata occurs in the Atlantic Forests of eastern and south-eastern Brazil, between southern Bahia and Santa Catarina (del Hoyo et al. 2002).


It occurs in the understorey of humid lowland forest, ranging up to 2,100 m, and tolerates logged forest, secondary growth, forest edges with grass and bamboo groves, and is often found at the edges of clearings or along roads (Aleixo & Galetti 1997, del Hoyo et al. 2002, WikiAves 2014, V. Cavarzere in litt. 2020). It feeds on insects and small arthropods and has been observed taking prey at an army ant swarm (WikiAves 2014). One nest was excavated in an earth bank along a road, with breeding reported in April and October in São Paulo state (del Hoyo et al. 2002).


This species occupies a range that has been heavily deforested, and deforestation in this region is said to have been particularly severe since the early 1970s (Tabarelli et al. 2005). It has been estimated that 7-12% remains of the original extent of Atlantic Forest in Brazil (Tabarelli et al. 2005, Ribeiro et al. 2009), some of which now exists in ‘archipelagos’ of tiny and widely scattered fragments (Tabarelli et al. 2005). The proportion of the original forest cover that remains in the biogeographical sub-regions that overlap with this species’s range (Bahia, Serra do Mar, Interior and Araucaria) varies from 7 to 36%, with 3-25% of that remaining forest protected (Ribeiro et al. 2009). Across the Atlantic Forest region in Brazil, it has been estimated that 42% of the total area of remaining forest exists in fragments of less than 250 ha (Ribeiro et al. 2009). Although this species tolerates habitat modification, it requires steep slopes or cavities in hollow trees for nest sites, the availability of which has decreased as deforestation has accelerated (G. Kohler in litt. 2014).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
No targeted conservation actions are known for this species, but it occurs in a number of protected areas, including Serra do Mar State Park (Schunk et al. 2019), Nova Lombardia Biological Reserve and Sooretama Biological Reserve.

Conservation and Research Actions Proposed
Carry out surveys to estimate the species's population density and population size. Continue to monitor rates of habitat loss in its range through remote sensing techniques. Increase the area of suitable habitat with protected status. Protect areas of forest within modified landscapes (V. Cavarzere in litt. 2020). Restore areas of forest within its range (V. Cavarzere in litt. 2020).


20cm. Smallish puffbird, rufescent around eye, blackish head and upperparts strongly streaked with buff. Clear white breast with obvious black lower border; below this the belly is dull orange-white. Similar spp. M. minor was previously including within this species and is similar, though is smaller and the lower breast and flanks are much whiter. Voice. High whistle of 10 or more 'bieh, bieh, bieh...' notes.


Text account compilers
Wheatley, H.

Butchart, S., Cavarzere, V., Ekstrom, J., Kohler, G., Lima, D., Symes, A. & Taylor, J.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Species factsheet: Malacoptila striata. Downloaded from on 29/09/2023. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2023) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 29/09/2023.