Justification of Red List Category
This species is listed as Vulnerable principally because of rapid deforestation within its range, particularly at lower altitudes (Collar et al. 1992, Best et al. 1993). The range and population are now small and severely fragmented.
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.
This species's population is suspected to be declining rapidly, in line with rates of habitat loss within its range.
Hylocryptus 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, at 150-1,350 m, occasionally to 1,800 m (Pople et al. 1997). 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). It 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).
Below 900 m, the rate of deforestation in west Ecuador in 1958-1988 was 57% per decade (Dodson and Gentry 1991). Significant habitat loss is ongoing, and will soon remove almost all remaining lowland forest. 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 three protected areas, Machalilla National Park and Cerro Blanco Protection Forest, Ecuador, and Tumbes Reserved Zone, Peru (Best and Kessler 1995) and it was recently discovered in the Laquipampa Reserved Zone, in east Lambayeque (J. Flanagan in litt. 2001). It also occurs in the large (>45,000 ha) Manglares-Churute Ecological Reserve, and the smaller Loma Alta Communal Reserve, Tumbesia-La Ceiba Natural Reserve, the Jatumpamba-Jorupe Protected Forest (J. Freile in litt. 2008) and Fundación Jocotoco's Jorupe Reserve (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. Horstmann 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
Sharpe, C J, Pople, R., Symes, A., Harding, M., Isherwood, I.
Horstman, E., Greeney, H., Flanagan, J., Freile, J.
BirdLife International (2020) Species factsheet: Clibanornis erythrocephalus. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 28/11/2020. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2020) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 28/11/2020.