Lesser Nothura Nothura minor


Justification of Red List Category
Rapid and extensive conversion of cerrado grasslands is presumably causing a rapid population reduction in this small tinamou. The population is now likely to be small and fragmented over a large range, and the species therefore qualifies as Vulnerable.

Population justification
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.

Trend justification
The species has suffered from major habitat loss; however, most of the known population now occurs in protected areas. Based on this information, a moderate and ongoing population decline is suspected to be taking place.

Distribution and population

Nothura minor has been recently recorded from very few sites over a large range in south-central Brazil, and one site, recently discovered in north-east Paraguay (Mazar Barnett et al. 2004). There are post-1980 records from Brasília, Emas and Serra da Canastra National Parks (Distrito Federal, Goiás and Minas Gerais) (Silveira 1998), IBGE Roncador Biological Reserve and Taguatinga (both Distrito Federal) (Silveira and Silveira 1998), Itapetininga Experimental Station and Itirapina Experimental Station (both São Paulo; it has not been recorded subsequently at Itirapina) (L. F. Silveira in litt. 1999, 2007), and a 1970s record from Luziânia (Goías). In Paraguay, the species was discovered in November 2001 at Laguna Blanca, San Pedro department, and subsequent surveys have revealed a minimum of 14 calling birds in three different areas (Mazar Barnett et al. 2004, H. del Castillo in litt. 2003, 2007). Even at these known sites, it occurs at relatively low densities (e.g. three calling birds in c.20 ha in Brasília National Park) and is absent from much apparently suitable habitat. There are no recent records from Mato Grosso, Mato Grosso do Sul or a number of sites in the states mentioned above, indicating a potentially large contraction in range.


In Brazil it favours 'campo limpo' grassland at 700-1,000 m (Parker et al. 1996, L. F. Silveira in litt. 1999, 2007), although the Paraguayan site is considerably lower (about 200 m a.s.l.), generally preferring scrubbier areas (campo sujo) than N. maculosa. It appears to prefer areas with a continuous cover of tall grasses and sedges, and has not been seen in recently burnt vegetation. Breeding is probably October-February.


Suitable grasslands have been rapidly destroyed by mechanised agriculture, intensive cattle-ranching, afforestation with non-native trees such as Eucalyptus, planting of exotic grasses, excessive use of pesticides and annual burning (Stotz et al. 1996, Parker and Willis 1997, H. del Castillo in litt. 2003, 2007). By 1993, two-thirds of the Cerrado region had been heavily or moderately altered (Conservation International 1999), with most of the destruction having occurred since 1950 (Cavalcanti 1999). In Paraguay, the Reserva Natural Privada Laguna Blanca, San Pedro is failing to protect the species since its natural grasslands are being converted to pastures with exotic grass species and Eucalyptus plantations. The population of this species has reduced to a few calling birds in a neighboring property which is now a Eucalyptus plantation (H. del Castillo in litt. 2012). Most of the known population is now in protected areas, and it is extremely rare outside them (L. F. Silveira in litt. 2012). Additionally, climate change might lead to a range contraction of over 50% by the end of the century (Marini et al. 2009).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
It is protected under Brazilian law, being considered Endangered at the national level (MMA 2014), and occurs in Brasília, Emas, Serra da Canastra (Silveira 1998) and Chapada dos Veadeiros (L. F. Silveira in litt. 1999, 2007) National Parks, IBGE Roncador Biological Reserve and Itapetininga Experimental Station. It is protected under Paraguayan law, being considered Critically Endangered at the national level (H. del Castillo in litt. 2012). Itoccurs in one patch of cerrado, the IBA Laguna Blanca, in San Pedro department, in low numbers on private properties (H. del Castillo in litt. 2012).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Survey suitable habitat in Serra do Cipó and Chapada dos Veadeiros National Parks, using tape-playback (L. F. Silveira in litt. 1999, 2007). Identify unprotected areas of suitable habitat in north and west Minas Gerais and Goiás and survey for this and other threatened Cerrado species (L. F. Silveira in litt. 1999, 2007). Conduct surveys in remaining areas of suitable habitat in north-eastern Paraguay to clarify status and range. Investigate habitat requirements and ecology (L. F. Silveira in litt. 1999, 2007). Purchase and protect occupied areas of unprotected habitat.  Review the plans for the expansion of farming within the Reserva Natural Privada Laguna Blanca and secure other private properties inside the Cerrado de Laguna Blanca IBA, Paraguay (H. del Castillo in litt. 2012).


18-20 cm. Small rufescent tinamou. Chestnut crown with yellowish mottling. Warm buff face, paler throat. Yellowish-buff neck, spotted dark brown, becoming streaky towards breast. Rest of underparts pale buff with some brownish markings on flanks. Chestnut-brown upperparts barred rufous with creamy fringes. Rufous wings barred dusky. In the black phase, brown areas of plumage are replaced with black (L. F. Silveira in litt. 2012). Yellow legs. Blackish bill. Brown iris. Similar spp. Spotted Nothura N. maculosa is less rufescent, has more contrasting white throat, and darker and heavier markings on neck. Voice Series of long, high-pitched and metallic peeeeep whistles, also faster and shorter notes. Different from usual trilling voice of N. maculosa.


Text account compilers
Hermes, C., Capper, D., Sharpe, C.J., Symes, A., Wheatley, H., Clay, R.P.

Silveira, L.F., Mazar Barnett, J., del Castillo, H.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2022) Species factsheet: Nothura minor. Downloaded from on 19/08/2022. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2022) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 19/08/2022.