Rufous-sided Pygmy-tyrant Euscarthmus rufomarginatus


Justification of Red List Category
This species was thought to be declining rapidly as a result of the wholesale destruction of its cerrado habitats. However, unlike many other cerrado species, it is not restricted to the upland habitats of the Planalto Central, and also occurs in (less threatened) cerrado enclaves in the Amazon. As a result, its population is now thought to be declining less rapidly than previously believed, and consequently it is classified as Near Threatened.

Population justification
The global population size has not been quantified, but this species is described as rare and patchily distributed. However, in January and February 2008 it was the most common flycatcher in campo sujo and cerrado ralo at Serra Geral do Tocantins Ecological Station, central Brazil.

Trend justification
A moderately rapid and on-going population decline is suspected owing to habitat loss and degradation.

Distribution and population

Euscarthmus rufomarginatus was probably once widespread, but is now recorded at scattered areas in central Brazil (with an isolated population at Serra do Cachimbo, southern Pará), north Bolivia (Serranía de Huanchaca in Santa Cruz, and east of Riberalta in Beni [S. Mayer in litt. 1994, 1999]), and north-east Paraguay (one record from Concepción in 1944). There are outlying populations (race savannophilus) in south Suriname (Sipaliwini savanna) and north Brazil (Amapá) (da Silva et al. 1997). The global stronghold is probably Noel Kempff Mercado National Park, Bolivia, which has c.3,000-4,000 km2 of suitable habitat (Killeen and Schulenberg 1998), with a possibly notable population in the 1,000 km2 Sipaliwini Nature Reserve, Suriname. It is often absent in apparently suitable habitat, which suggests that the reasons for its rarity are not yet understood.


It occurs in pristine, shrubby campo and campo cerrado, and feeds on insects and fruit. Bamboo scrub may provide some temporary refuge after fires (Parker and Willis 1997), and it colonises recently burned areas (Lopes et al. 2010). Young birds were being fed by the parents in January and February at Serra Geral do Tocantins Ecological Station (Lopes et al. 2010). Stomach contents of these individuals contained almost equal proportions of small fruits and insects (Lopes et al. 2010).


Habitat loss in the Cerrado is probably the major factor explaining its current rarity. By 1993, two-thirds of the region had been heavily or moderately altered (Conservation International 1999), with most of the destruction having occurred since 1950 (Cavalcanti 1999). There has been extensive conversion to agriculture for livestock farming, Eucalyptus plantations, soybeans and exportable crops, encouraged by government land reform in Brazil (Stotz et al. 1996, Parker and Willis 1997). However, unlike many other cerrado birds it is not restricted to the upland cerrado of the Planalto Central, and occurs further north and in savanna enclaves in the Amazon. These Amazonian savannas, especially in Serra do Cachimbo and Amapá, are not as threatened as the southern ones, and it may also occur in other areas such as savanna enclaves in Amazonas and Rondônia, Brazil.

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
It is found in most protected areas in the Cerrado, including recently decreed ones such as Nascentes do Rio Parnaíba National Park, and Jalapão State Park (Braz et al. 2003, J. F. Pacheco and R. Silva in litt. 2003). It also occurs in Serra Geral do Tocantins Ecological Station, an area adjacent to Jalapão State Park (Lopes et al. 2010).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Survey known sites to obtain population density estimates. Remove incentives encouraging habitat loss, especially the planting of Eucalyptus trees on grasslands. Study the species's ecology to assess possible reasons for its rarity. Survey north Mato Grosso and north Bolivia (da Silva et al. 1997), Suriname and adjacent parts of Brazil, and north-east Paraguay. Search for this, and other threatened grassland specialists, in the Espinhaço Range and Campo das Vertentes, Minas Gerais (Lopes et al. 2010). Create a large conservation unit at Campo das Vertentes for the conservation of grassland habitats (Lopes et al. 2010). Enforce environmental legislation for the protection of Areas for Permanent Preservation (APPs), which cannot be used for high impact activities such as plantations, cattle-ranching and mining (Lopes et al. 2010). Stop mining of refractory clay at the headwaters of rio Uberabinha and rio Claro, where representative tracts of covoais still persist (Lopes et al. 2010). Restrict sugarcane, Eucalyptus and Pinus plantations to already cleared land in order to avoid conversion of pristine cerrado and campos. Create a seal of environmental certification for biofuel activities, especially for sugarcane (Lopes et al. 2010). Expand the Serra do Rola Moc, a State Park, incorporating large tracts of well-conserved grasslands around Retiro das Pedras (Lopes et al. 2010).


11 cm. Small tyrannulet with contrasting throat and chest. Dull brown above with indistinct, pale buffy supraloral and short eyebrow. Long tail and wings duskier, with two dull buff wing-bars. White throat. Warm olivaceous-buff chest and flanks. Rest of underparts yellowish. Slender grey bill with flesh mandible. Similar spp. Female Bearded Tachuri Polystictus pectoralis has shorter bill and tail, and shows less contrast between throat and breast. Tawny-crowned Pygmy-tyrant E. meloryphus has much plainer wings and paler underparts. Voice Fast, musical and slurry tchip chip chip-tchrrrrrui.


Text account compilers
Stuart, T., Harding, M., Sharpe, C J, Capper, D., Symes, A.

Minns, J., Pacheco, J., Mayer, S., Silva, R., Olmos, F.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2020) Species factsheet: Euscarthmus rufomarginatus. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 31/10/2020. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2020) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 31/10/2020.