Moustached Woodcreeper Xiphocolaptes falcirostris


Justification of Red List Category
The widespread destruction of dry forest in interior Brazil has rapidly reduced the now small population of this species. Remaining populations are severely fragmented and continuing to decline (Collar et al. 1992). 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
This species's population size is suspected to be declining rapidly, in line with rates of habitat loss within its range.

Distribution and population

Xiphocolaptes falcirostris has a wide but highly fragmented distribution in the interior of north-east Brazil: east Maranhão (recent records from Tuntun and Sambaíba), Piauí (the only recent record is from Fazenda Bom Recreio, in 1987), Ceará (only recently from Guaramirangá, in 1987), west Paraíba (Coremas, in 1957), Pernambuco (Fazenda Campos Bons, in 1971), Bahia (abundant at Coribe in 1988, but perhaps now extirpated, though found near São Desidério [Olmos 2008]) and north Minas Gerais (Fazenda Olhos d'Água, Brejo do Amparo and Peruaçú) (da Silva and Oren 1997). A specimen labelled Posse, Goiás, is probably from the rio São Fransisco valley in Bahia (da Silva and Oren 1997). It has certainly declined and is now extremely local and uncommon.


It inhabits the interior of intact and slightly disturbed dry forests, which grow on relatively rich soils. These forests are wetter and taller than is typical of the Caatinga. It feeds on insect larvae, ants, snails and beetles. Breeding is probably in the austral summer.


Clearance for irrigated and dry field agriculture has removed extensive tracts of forest that are also an important source of charcoal for steel and pig-iron industries (da Silva and Oren 1997). Eucalyptus sp. plantations were farmed as a substitute source of charcoal, but the recent rise in the value of these plantations for the paper pulp industry has increased pressure on native forests for charcoal. Forest at Coribe was extensive and undisturbed in 1987, but had been entirely destroyed by 1993 (da Silva and Oren 1997). International financing agencies have accelerated the rate of deforestation in the south of its range by underwriting irrigation projects (da Silva and Oren 1997).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
The species is considered Vulnerable at the national level in Brazil (Silveira and Straube 2008, MMA 2014) and protected under Brazilian law. It has been found in the Serra do Baturité State Environment Protection Area, Ceará, and the Peruaçú Special Protection Area, Minas Gerais.

Conservation Actions Proposed
Survey, and seek the creation of new reserves, on the left bank of the rio São Francisco, from Barra in Bahia to Itacarambi in Minas Gerais, including patches along the rios Grande and Preto in north-west Bahia, and in south Piauí and central Maranhão (da Silva and Oren 1997). Map and ecologically evaluate extant patches of dry forest (da Silva and Oren 1997). Conduct long-term studies on the ecology of dry forests (e.g. succession and the effects of selective logging) to develop viable strategies for future economic utilisation (da Silva and Oren 1997). Create a system of conservation units (following mapping) that maximises the representation of the original dry forest fauna and flora (da Silva and Oren 1997).


29 cm. Large, heavy-billed woodcreeper. Dark rufous-brown crown, with faint pale streaking. Long eyebrow and broad subocular stripe. Otherwise rufous-brown, brightest on mantle and tinged buffy on underparts with inconspicuous buffy shafts on flanks and faint barring on belly. Long, heavy, dark bill. Race franciscanus has darker underparts and almost unstreaked crown, but there is considerable overlap between both forms. Similar spp. White-throated Woodcreeper X. albicollis is more olivaceous, and is heavily streaked and barred. Voice Spaced series of far-carrying and descending notes.


Text account compilers
Capper, D., Pople, R., Sharpe, C J, Symes, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2019) Species factsheet: Xiphocolaptes falcirostris. Downloaded from on 25/03/2019. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2019) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 25/03/2019.