Masked Mountain-tanager Tephrophilus wetmorei


Justification of Red List Category
This species is considered Vulnerable because it is suspected that the population is small and declining in line with habitat loss and degradation (Collar et al. 1992).

Population justification
The population is placed in the band 2,500-9,999 individuals, equating to 1,667-6,666 mature individuals, rounded here to 1,500-7,000 mature individuals.

Trend justification
A slow and on-going population decline is suspected, based on rates of habitat loss within its range.

Distribution and population

Buthraupis wetmorei occurs in the Andes from south-west Colombia, through Ecuador, into north-west Peru. In Colombia, there are records from Puracé National Park and its environs, Cauca, and recently from Nariño (Strewe and Kreft 1999). It is restricted to the east Andes in Ecuador (Carchi, Napo, Morona-Santiago, Azuay, Loja and Zamora-Chinchipe) (Krabbe et al. 1997, 1998, J. Fjeldså in litt. 1999), and occurs on Cerro Chinguela, eastern Piura, Peru. It is generally considered rare or uncommon, but is fairly common at Cajanuma, Podocarpus National Park, which may protect a significant population. Nevertheless, it is unlikely that the total population exceeds 5,000 birds, and it is inferred to be declining.


It inhabits very humid elfin forest, scattered bushes, bamboo, giant grasses and dense brush, on the páramo-forest ecotone from 2,900 to 3,600 m, and possibly higher before human alteration of the treeline.


Timberline habitats in the Andes have been diminishing for millennia, primarily through human use of fire (Kessler and Herzog 1998). Regular burning of páramos adjacent to elfin forest, to promote the growth of fresh shoots for livestock, has lowered the timberline by several hundred metres, thereby destroying large areas of habitat, and is a continuing threat (Kessler and Herzog 1998). In south-west Colombia, the proportion of timberline habitat remaining is estimated at less than 10%, and human pressure is increasing (P. G. W. Salaman in litt. 1999). Temperate forest has been replaced with exotic pine plantations near the known site in Nariño (Strewe and Kreft 1999), and other threats include firewood-gathering and potato cultivation (P. G. W. Salaman in litt. 1999). The area where the species occurs in Peru is being heavily deforested and burned for agriculture and cattle ranching; fragmentation is severe around cerro Chinguela (F. Angulo in litt. 2012).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
It is known from seven protected areas: Puracé National Park, Cauca, (which is burnt regularly), near and probably within Galeras Fauna and Flora Sanctuary, Nariño, (where there is currently no burning of vegetation) (Strewe and Kreft 1999), Guandera Biological Reserve, Carchi (Cresswell et al. 1999), Cayambe-Coca Ecological Reserve, Napo/Imbabura/Pichincha (Wege and Long 1995), Sangay National Park, Morona-Santiago, Llanganates National Park (P-Y. Henry in litt. 2007) and Podocarpus National Park, Loja/Zamora-Chinchipe, (which has one of the few pristine timberline areas in the tropical Andes, because burning does not take place [Kessler and Herzog 1998]). In Colombia and Peru it is considered as Nationally Vulnerable (Renjifo et al. 2014, F. Angulo in litt. 2012).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Conduct surveys to clarify its distribution. In particular,  survey suitable habitat in Tabaconas Namballe national sanctuary, since it is not present in any protected area in Peru (F. Angulo in litt. 2012). Regulate the use of fire (Fjeldså and Kessler 1996), and prohibit the burning of páramo in national parks. Educate and encourage local people to take a leading role in land-use management and restoration schemes (Fjeldså and Kessler 1996).


20.5 cm. Lethargic, yellowish tanager. Yellow-olive crown and nape, yellow forehead and outline to black facial area, olive upperparts with yellow rump, underparts yellow, lightly mottled blackish on the flanks, blue fringing to coverts giving blue shoulder and wing-bar. Hints Usually found in pairs or small groups near timberline. Voice High pitch metallic monotonic calls - 2/sec


Text account compilers
Stuart, T., Symes, A., Sharpe, C.J., Pople, R., Isherwood, I.

Henry, P.Y.H., Salaman, P., Krabbe, N., Fjeldså, J.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2022) Species factsheet: Tephrophilus wetmorei. Downloaded from on 30/06/2022. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2022) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 30/06/2022.