Perija Tapaculo Scytalopus perijanus


Justification of Red List Category
This species occurs in a small range, in which suitable habitat is threatened by logging for illegal cultivation and cattle ranching, causing a slow population decline. The population is however not severely fragmented or restricted to a low number of locations, and hence it is evaluated as Near Threatened.

Population justification
The population size of this species has not been quantified. A preliminary population estimate was derived from a congener with similar habitat requirements, the Ecuadorian Tapaculo (Scytalopus robbinsi); this species occurs at a density of c. 27 mature individuals per km2 in suitable forest (Hermes et al. 2017). Assuming that the Perija Tapaculo occurs at a similar density, and further assuming that up to 75% of forests within the range offer suitable habitat (i.e. c.700 km2; Global Forest Watch 2021), the population may number c.19,000 mature individuals. To account for uncertainty, the population size is here preliminarily placed in the band 10,000-19,999 mature individuals.
The population structure has not been assessed, but based on observational records (eBird 2021) it is conceivable that the species forms several subpopulations.

Trend justification
The population trend has not been assessed directly, but the species is thought to decline due to habitat loss (Renjifo et al. 2016; del Hoyo et al. 2020). Over the past ten years, 2% of tree cover has been lost within the range (Global Forest Watch 2021). Considering that the species is also found in shrubby and secondary growth adjacent to forest (Avendaño et al. 2015; Renjifo et al. 2016; del Hoyo et al. 2020), population declines have likely been very low over the past ten years, not exceeding 10% over this period. In 2017 however, tree cover loss peaked at 0.63% per year, before falling again to negligible levels of <1% (Global Forest Watch 2021). Should deforestation rates increase to similarly high levels in the near future, up to 6% of tree cover may be lost within the range over the next ten years. Precautionarily, future population declines are therefore placed in the band 1-15% over the next ten years.

Distribution and population

This species is found in the Serranía de Perijá of northern Colombia and western Venezuela.


This species is found in humid montane and elfin forest in dense interior and at edges between 1,600 and 3,225 m (Avendaño et al. 2015; del Hoyo et al. 2020). It however appears to tolerate a low level of habitat clearance and fragmentation and is also found in shrubby areas near forest patches, secondary forest, páramo and plantations (Avendaño et al. 2015; Renjifo et al. 2016; del Hoyo et al. 2020). It is however absent from extensively logged and burned forests (Renjifo et al. 2016; del Hoyo et al. 2020). The reproductive period likely lasts from April to July (Renjifo et al. 2016).


Habitat within the species's range is affected by illegal cultivation and cattle ranching, causing habitat declines and fragmentation (C. J. Sharpe in litt. 2003; Renjifo et al. 2016). Habitat clearance is more extensive in lowland areas below 2,000 m, where forests are under threat from a range of processes including colonisation, ranching, the cultivation of narcotics, and mineral exploitation, which are aided by the roads approaching the Colombian side (C. J. Sharpe in litt. 1997, 2000, 2021; A. Viloria per J. Fjeldså in litt. 1998; Sharpe and Lentino 2008; Renjifo et al. 2016).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
There is some formal protection for this species in the Sierra de Perijá National Park, Venezuela, but there is no active management (A. Viloria per J. Fjeldså in litt. 1998; Sharpe and Lentino 2015). In Colombia, the species occurs in the Reserva Natural de las Aves Chamicero de Perijá (Renjifo et al. 2016).

Conservation Actions Needed
Conduct research to better gain better population size and trend estimates. Monitor the population trend. Assess the impact of forest loss and degradation on the population size. Prevent illegal logging in the Serranía de Perijá. Effectively protect remaining habitat.


Text account compilers
Hermes, C., Wheatley, H.

Fjeldså, J., Sharpe, C J, Viloria, A. & Westrip, J.R.S.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2022) Species factsheet: Scytalopus perijanus. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 09/12/2022. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2022) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 09/12/2022.