Justification of Red List Category
This species has a small population, which is suspected to decline due to deforestation within its range, particularly at lower altitudes. It is consequently considered Near Threatened.
The population is estimated to number 2,500-9,999 mature 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 3,750-14,999 individuals, rounded here to 3,500-15,000 individuals.
The population trend has not been estimated directly, but the species is suspected to be in decline due to habitat loss. Forest loss over the past three generations (10.2 years) has been low within the range (potentially <2%; Global Forest Watch 2020). The species is known to tolerate moderate levels of habitat degradation, but it is absent from heavily degraded areas (Ridgely and Tudor 1994, J. Freile in litt. 2008). While it can be precautionarily assumed that population declines are greater than forest loss, the rate of population decline is unlikely to exceed 20% over three generations (10.2 years).
Clibanornis erythrocephalus occurs in south-west Ecuador (Manabí, Guayas, El Oro and Loja) and north-west Peru (Tumbes, Piura and Lambayeque). Probably the largest population occurs in Peru, on forested ridges between the río Tumbes and the Ecuadorian border (Parker et al. 1995). It is rare to uncommon and very local, being moderately common in only a few areas of suitable habitat (Ridgely and Tudor 1994).
It inhabits understorey in deciduous, semi-deciduous and moist evergreen forest and woodland at 150-1,350 m, occasionally to 1,800 m, along the slopes and outlying ridges of the western Andes (Pople et al. 1997, Ridgely and Greenfield 2001, Miller 2020). It persists in secondary woodland and forest edge, occasionally even narrow woodland strips along watercourses and disturbed scrub near forest (Ridgely and Tudor 1994), but viable populations cannot persist in severely degraded habitats (J. Freile in litt. 2008, Miller et al. 2012). The species may undertake seasonal elevational movements. It is insectivorous, and characteristically forages on the forest floor or in dense vine-tangles, tossing dead leaves and twigs and probing leaf clusters. It is usually seen alone or in pairs. It nests at the end of a c.1 m-long burrow in an earth bank, principally during the wet season, in January-May (Miller et al. 2012, Remsen et al. 2016).
The most severe threat to the species is the loss and degradation of its habitat. Below 900 m in western Ecuador, deforestation rates amounted to 57% per decade between the 1950s and 1980s (Dodson and Gentry 1991). Habitat loss is now ongoing at a lower level (Global Forest Watch 2020). Disturbance and degradation through heavy grazing by goats and cattle also pose a significant threat to the understorey of deciduous forests. Even protected areas are affected by illegal settlement and deforestation, livestock-grazing and habitat clearance by people seeking land rights. The propensity of this species to nest in banks causes many nests to be built along road-cuts. Even in protected areas (such as Jorupe Reserve), traffic along such roads may cause disturbance to active nests. If road-cuts act as an artificial sink-habitat for nesting, they may pose a threat to populations which otherwise have suitable habitat nearby (H. F. Greeney in litt. 2012). Of the two nests that have been found, both were infested by parasitic Philornis dipteran larvae (Miller et al. 2012).
Conservation Actions Underway
Significant populations occur in protected areas: Machalilla National Park, Cerro Blanco Protection Forest, Manglares-Churute Ecological Reserve , Loma Alta Communal Reserve, Tumbesia-La Ceiba Natural Reserve, Jatumpamba-Jorupe Protected Forest and Jorupe Reserve (Ecuador), Tumbes Reserved Zone and Laquipampa Reserved Zone (Peru) (Best and Kessler 1995, J. Flanagan in litt. 2001, Miller et al. 2012, Athanas and Greenfield 2016). The 776 km2 partially forested Chongón-Colonche Protection Forest forms the nucleus of a reforestation project (E. Horstman in litt. 2000), and may support the species.
21 cm. Large and brightly patterned furnariid. Largely orange-rufous upperparts, with brownish-olive back. Pale orange-rufous throat, with rest of underparts pale brownish-grey. Long bill and orange-brown iris. Voice Metallic, staccato tok-tok-tok... is most common vocalisation.
Text account compilers
Flanagan, J., Freile, J., Greeney, H., Harding, M., Horstman, E., Isherwood, I., Pople, R., Sharpe, C.J. & Symes, A.
BirdLife International (2021) Species factsheet: Clibanornis erythrocephalus. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 07/05/2021. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2021) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 07/05/2021.