Justification of Red List category
This species has been recorded from only ten widely disjunct areas, and is presumed to have a small population which is declining in line with the decreasing area, extent and quality of suitable habitat within its range. For these reasons, it is listed as Vulnerable. However, further surveys may find the species at additional locations and this may result in its downlisting to Near Threatened.
A population estimate of 2,500-9,999 has been interpreted from recent records, the observation that it is relatively frequent in Distrito Federal, Brazil, and the fact that it appears to be more widely distributed that previously assumed. This would equate to 3,750-14,999 individuals, rounded here to 3,500-15,000 individuals. Verification of this estimate is desirable.
This species's population is suspected to be declining slowly, in line with habitat loss and degradation within its range.
Laterallus xenopterus has been recorded from widely disjunct areas in east Paraguay, central Brazil and central Bolivia. In Paraguay, there are recent records from seven sites in Concepción, Canindeyú, Itapúa and Caazapá and lost specimens from San Pedro and Amambay (Hayes 1995, Lowen et al. 1996, D. R. Capper, J. Mazar Barnett and R. P. Clay in litt. 1999). All Brazilian records are from Distrito Federal (where relatively frequent), except for a dead bird found at Itirapina, São Paulo (Oniki and Willis 1996), an individual captured in a small mammal trap at Fazenda Jacaré-Riachão, Minas Gerais, in 2004 (de Vasconcelos 2006) and recent records from Mato Grosso and Goiás (Castro et al. 2014). The only Bolivian records are from Beni Biological Station (Brace et al. 1998) and Estancia Cristalino (Tobias and Seddon 2007), Beni Department. Recent records have shown that it is more widespread than previously thought (Brace et al. 1998, D. R. Capper, J. Mazar Barnett and R. P. Clay in litt. 1999, Castro et al. 2014) and it may even occur in north-east Argentina (D. R. Capper, J. Mazar Barnett and R. P. Clay in litt. 1999).
It inhabits low-lying marshes or inundated grasslands in the Cerrado region, where there are dense tussock-grasses (0.3-2 m in height) and usually 0.5-2 cm of standing water (D. R. Capper, J. Mazar Barnett and R. P. Clay in litt. 1999). Suitable grasslands are often located in areas of undulating terrain adjacent to gallery forest (D. R. Capper, J. Mazar Barnett and R. P. Clay in litt. 1999), but the Bolivian records were in partially flooded savanna and a belt of Cyperus giganticus fringing a lake (Brace et al. 1998).
By 1993, two-thirds of the Cerrado region had been either heavily or moderately altered (Conservation International 1999), especially by mechanised agriculture, intensive cattle-ranching and afforestation (Stotz et al. 1996, Parker and Willis 1997), with most of the destruction having occurred since 1950 (Cavalcanti 1999). In Brazil, the main threat is the wholesale loss of wet campo habitats to expansion of agriculture (especially of soybean and maize monocultures) and Eucalyptus and Pinus plantations; mining and hydroelectric projects are potential threats (Castro et al. 2014). However, wet valley-bottoms are perhaps the least suitable habitat-type in the region for intensive agriculture and the species appears to tolerate some burning (D. R. Capper, J. Mazar Barnett and R. P. Clay in litt. 1999). The most significant threat is possibly the widespread use of pesticides, fertilisers and other chemicals (D. R. Capper, J. Mazar Barnett and R. P. Clay in litt. 1999).
Conservation Actions Underway
It is known from Itirapina Experimental Station, Brasília National Park and adjacent Norte Brasília State Ecological Park (Brazil), Paso Bravo National Park, Mbaracuyú Forest Nature Reserve, Tapytá Private Nature Reserve, (possibly) Estero Milagro National Park (Paraguay) and Beni Biological Station (Bolivia) (Oniki and Willis 1996, Brace et al. 1998, D. R. Capper, J. Mazar Barnett and R. P. Clay in litt. 1999). However, the drying effects of plantations has affected one part of Brasília, Paso Bravo has yet to be consolidated and large parts of Estancia Tapytá have been afforested (D. R. Capper, J. Mazar Barnett and R. P. Clay in litt. 1999).
14 cm. Tiny, distinctively patterned rail. Rufous-chestnut head and neck, duller brown back. Blackish wings and tail. Wing-coverts boldly barred black and white. Orange-buff upper breast, with paler throat. Rest of underparts white, barred black on belly. Largely black undertail-coverts. Blackish maxilla with turquoise cutting edge and mandible. Grey-brown legs. Similar spp. Rufous-sided Crake L. melanophaius can show thin barring on wings but has drab brown head and upper neck. Voice Song is a drawn out, slightly descending trill similar to other crakes (e.g. L. melanophaius). Hollow piú piú calls.
Text account compilers
Clay, R., Sharpe, C J, Symes, A., Temple, H.
Clay, R.P., Velazquez, M., Mazar Barnett, J., Capper, D.
BirdLife International (2023) Species factsheet: Laterallus xenopterus. Downloaded from http://datazone.birdlife.org/species/factsheet/rufous-faced-crake-laterallus-xenopterus on 03/10/2023. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2023) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://datazone.birdlife.org on 03/10/2023.