Masked Saltator Saltator cinctus


Justification of Red List category
This species has a very 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). 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). The population size may be moderately small to large, but it is not believed to 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). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.

Population justification
The species is rare and patchily distributed (Stotz et al. 1996). In Colombia, it was found to occur at an average density of 6 individuals/km2, equating to 4 mature individuals/km2, but it can reach considerably higher densities in mature stands of Podocarpus (Renjifo et al. 2014). Assuming that throughout its range the species occurs at a density of 4 mature individuals/km2, and further assuming that about 10% of the mapped range are occupied, the global population would number at least 30,000 mature individuals.

Trend justification
The population trend has not been estimated directly. Forest loss within the range has been low over the last ten years (<2%; Global Forest Watch 2020). However, given the species’s potentially strong association with the selectively logged Podocarpus (Renjifo 1991), it is conceivable that habitat degradation is proceeding at a more rapid pace than forest loss alone. Particularly in the northernmost part of the range, suitable habitat may be lost at a higher rate (M. E. Echeverry-Galvis in litt. 2020). The overall population decline is here tentatively placed in the band 1-9% over ten years.

Distribution and population

Saltator cinctus occurs in a disjunct range on the slopes of the Andes in central Colombia (Anitoquía, Caldas, Risaralda, Quindío, Tolima and Valle del Cauca), eastern Ecuador (Napo, Morona-Santiago, Zamora-Chinchipe and Loja ) and northern Peru (Piura, Cajamarca, Amazonas, Huánuco and San Martín) (Ridgely and Tudor 1989, Renjifo 1991, B. López-Lanús in litt. 1999, Brewer 2020, M. A. Echeverry-Galvis in litt. 2020). Sites of occurrence are restricted to mountain ecosystems with mature forest cover (M. A. Echeverry-Galvis in litt. 2020).


This species occurs in the canopy of montane evergreen and elfin forest, at 1,700-3,100 m (Ridgely and Tudor 1989, Parker et al. 1996). It has been observed in dense stands of Chusquea bamboo in Peru and Ecuador (Fjeldså and Krabbe 1990). Recent records from Colombia and Ecuador suggest a much stronger association with Podocarpus oleifolius, which tends to comprise a very small proportion of total primary forest (less than 10% in Alto Quindío, Colombia), and is very slow-growing and heavily logged (Renjifo 1991). The species is observed being solitary, in pairs or associated with mixed-species flocks (M. A. Echeverry-Galvis in litt. 2020). In Ecuador, it undertakes non-seasonal movements, perhaps in response to changes in the availability of Podocarpus cones (Tobias and Williams 1996). This association consequently makes the status of S. cinctus extremely uncertain.


Podocarpus forests and montane forests of the north Andes are generally under intense threat from conversion to agriculture and cattle pasture, mining and logging (Dinerstein et al. 1995). The only known localities in Colombia are on the most deforested cordillera.

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
The species occurs in several protected areas throughout its range. The species is listed as Vulnerable at the national level in Colombia and Ecuador (Renjifo et al. 2014, Freile et al. 2018).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Conduct detailed studies of habitat requirements and tolerance of disturbance. Repeat surveys of known sites in order to determine rates of range contraction and population decline. Effectively protect large areas of suitable forest at sites with a high density of Podocarpus oleifolius, in both strictly protected areas and community led multiple use areas.


Text account compilers
Hermes, C.

Echeverry-Galvis, M.A., Gilroy, J., López-Lanús, B., O'Brien, A. & Sharpe, C.J.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Species factsheet: Saltator cinctus. Downloaded from on 23/09/2023. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2023) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 23/09/2023.