Russet-winged Spadebill Platyrinchus leucoryphus


Justification of Red List Category
The population size has been estimated at less then 10,000 mature individuals. The species appears to be reliant on primary Atlantic forest, which continues to be lost throughout the its range. Recent surveys have failed to find new populations and known populations are now known to be less extensive than previously estimated. It is likely to be undergoing a continued population decline owing to habitat loss. The species occurs in several subpopulations across Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina, each of which likely contains less than 1,000 mature individuals. It is therefore listed as Vulnerable.

Population justification
The population size is preliminarily estimated to fall into the band 2,500-9,999 mature individuals. This equates to 3,750-14,999 individuals in total, rounded here to 3,500-15,000 individuals.

Trend justification
This species is suspected to be declining as habitat within its range is lost.

Distribution and population

Platyrinchus leucoryphus occurs at low densities in primary and old secondary Atlantic forest in lowlands, mountains and interior tablelands of south-east Brazil (central Espírito Santo, Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Paraná, north-east Santa Catarina and north-east Rio Grande do Sul), east Paraguay (recent records from four protected areas in Canindeyú, Caazapá, and Itapúa (Lowen et al. 1996, Madroño et al. 1997, Clay et al. 1998) and north-east Argentina (five undocumented records in Iguazú National Park, Misiones (Mazar Barnett and Pearman 2001) and one undocumented in Salto Encantado Provincial Park (Giraudo et al. 2008)). Recent surveys in Paraguay have virtually failed to find new populations of the species and documented populations are now known to be less extensive than originally postulated, however important populations remain in three protected areas, most notably San Rafael National Park in Itapúa (Esquivel et al. 2007). The species was not found during searches made with playback in appropriate habitat in northern and central Misiones, including Iguazú National Park, Argentina during 2003-2011 (A. Bodrati in litt. 2007, 2012). The Río Iguazu is perhaps a natural barrier to this species and this could account for a continuing lack of records from Argentina (M. Pearman in litt. 2003).


In Paraguay, Platyrinchus leucoryphus appears to prefer forest with an open understorey, with small saplings providing a shady canopy but little undergrowth, and numerous lianas providing perches between flycatching sallies (Lowen et al. 1996). It eats arthropods and has been recorded taking katydids, moths and spiders (Pizo 2003). Recent evidence shows that it is largely reliant on primary forest, but it has also been found in disturbed forest and in an isolated 1 ha forest patch with an open understorey created by cattle grazing (Esquivel et al. 2007). It typically occurs at low densities (e.g. 3 territories in 50 ha in São Paulo state, Brazil (Pizo 2003) and 4 territories in 100 ha in San Rafael National Park, Paraguay (Esquivel et al. 2007)). Nesting has been recorded in November in Paraguay and Brazil. A nest in São Paulo state was built 4.5 m above the ground in an understorey tree in old-growth forest (Pizo 2003), while in San Rafael National Park and nest was prominently situated at a height of 2.5 m in a fork of a lone sapling in primary forest (Clay and Madroño 1997).


The species appears to be reliant on areas with an open understorey and dense canopy typical of primary Atlantic forest. There is extensive and continuing loss and degradation of Atlantic forest throughout its range, through forest clearing and selective logging, which therefore constitute serious threats to this species.

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
It occurs in Iguaçu National Park, Augusto Ruschi Biological Reserve and Intervales State Park in Brazil, Caaguazú and San Rafael National Parks and Mbaracayú Forest Nature Reserve in Paraguay, and Iguazú National Park in Argentina. It is protected by law in Brazil.

Conservation Actions Proposed
Monitor all records of the species to gain a clearer picture of its distribution and population size for future conservation work (M. Pearman in litt. 2003). Further clarify its habitat requirements. Increase the area of suitable habitat that has protected status.


12.5 cm. A small brownish flycatcher with a flat, wide bill. Upperparts brownish olive. Wings and tail dusky, broadly edged cinnamon-rufous. Face with blurred pattern. Loral, eye-ring and post-ocular stripe curving behind auriculars pale buffy-yellow. Dark stripes in auriculars and moustache. Throat yellowish. Rest of underparts pale buffy-yellow with olivaceous band across breast and wash on sides. Pale pinky legs; dusky bill with fleshy mandible. Similar spp. White-throated Spadebill P. mystaceus is smaller, has a much shorter tail and the upperparts show less contrast. The face pattern is also more marked. Voice Distinctive song is a three second whistled trill rising in pitch, ended up with a sudden chíu. Also a sharp fíu call. Hints Hard to find, best located by call.


Text account compilers
Benstead, P., O'Brien, A., Capper, D., Sharpe, C.J., Symes, A., Hermes, C., Wheatley, H., Williams, R.

Esquivel, A., De Luca, A., Pearman, M., Bodrati, A., Clay, R.P., Develey, P.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2020) Species factsheet: Platyrinchus leucoryphus. Downloaded from on 18/01/2020. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2020) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 18/01/2020.