Santa Marta Foliage-gleaner Clibanornis rufipectus


Justification of Red List Category
This species is confined to a small range. Its population is moderately small and projected to decline with increasing levels of habitat loss and fragmentation. It is therefore listed as Vulnerable.

Population justification
The population density was found to vary by habitat and altitude, with densities being highest in forests at 1,000-1,500 m (Botero-Delgadillo et al. 2015). Based on density estimates, the population size was calculated at 9,300-13,100 mature individuals, though the true population size may be closer to the lower end of the estimate (Botero-Delgadillo et al. 2015, E. Botero-Delgadillo in litt. 2020, Fundación ProAves in litt. 2020).

Trend justification
The species is undergoing a population decline as suitable habitat within its range are disappearing. Over 60% of the original vegetation within the range has already been lost in the past. Recently, deforestation rates seem to have slowed down, amounting up to 15% per decade between 2001 and 2010 (Renjifo et al. 2016, see also Global Forest Watch 2020). Taking the impacts of habitat loss and fragmentation into account, the species has been projected to decline by 20-29% over the next ten years (Renjifo et al. 2016).

Distribution and population

The species is endemic to Colombia, where it occurs in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. It is mainly distributed along the northern and north-western slopes (Botero-Delgadillo et al. 2015).


The species inhabits humid subtropical primary forest and secondary habitats with dense undergrowth including overgrown shade-coffee plantations, which form transitional habitats between the dry Acacia scrub of the lowlands and more humid forest above 2,100 m (Krabbe 2008, Botero-Delgadillo et al. 2015, Fundación ProAves in litt. 2020). Density estimates suggest that the species is equally abundant in overgrown shade-coffee plantations as in forest habitat, but it is assumed that the presence of secondary forest growth is important for the persistence of the species in transformed habitats (Botero-Delgadillo et al. 2015, E. Botero-Delgadillo in litt. 2020). It avoids sun-grown coffee plantations, cleaned shade-coffee plantations and secondary vegetation surrounded by open habitat (Botero-Delgadillo et al. 2015, Fundación ProAves in litt. 2020). The species ranges from 600 m to 1,875 m altitude, being most abundant at 1,000-1,600 m (Botero-Delgadillo et al. 2015, E. Botero-Delgadillo in litt. 2020). It has been observed to forage on the ground or within 0.5 m of the ground, often rummaging among large dead leaves, and also examining decaying wood (Krabbe 2008). It likely feeds on invertebrates and small vertebrates such as frogs and lizards (del Hoyo et al. 2003). The species nests in steep embankments (Krabbe 2008).


Despite its tolerance of low levels of habitat conversion, the species is threatened by the loss and fragmentation of its habitat, and it was found to be absent in sun-grown coffee plantations and in small secondary-growth patches surrounded by open areas (Botero-Delgadillo et al. 2015, Renjifo et al. 2016). Large parts of the original vegetation in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta has already been lost, and subsequent population declines are projected to be ongoing (Renjifo et al. 2016). Closed-canopy subtropical forest in the species's range is described as extremely fragmented owing mainly to clearance for coffee cultivation and pasture. Secondary habitats, as well as primary forest, remain threatened by clearance, as driven by high coffee and land prices. Deforestation and forest degradation are accelerating and are projected to increase further, as coffee plantations and touristic infrastructure expand across the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta (Fundación ProAves in litt. 2020). Large areas of habitat around Pueblo Viejo have been destroyed by fires, but considerable expanses of forest and scrub still occur between Pueblo Viejo and the San Lorenzo ridge (Krabbe 2008).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
The species occurs in several protected areas, including the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta National Park, El Dorado Bird Reserve, Jirocasaca Private Reserve and possibly the Tayrona National Park (Krabbe 2008, Botero-Delgadillo et al. 2015).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Asses the species's presence at further localities, particularly in the eastern and southern parts of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta and at higher elevations. Monitor population trends. Monitor trends in the extent and condition of habitat. Investigate space use and habitat selection. Assess its tolerance of converted habitats. Increase the area of suitable habitat with protected status.


17-20 cm. Reddish brown foliage-gleaner with few distinct markings; strong dagger-like bill pale grey (del Hoyo et al. 2003). Crown, nape, back and upperwings medium reddish brown. Ear coverts finely streaked or mottled medium brown. Throat cinnamon-orange, shading to medium-pale rufescent brown on the belly. Tail chestnut. Narrow eye-ring and legs pale grey (del Hoyo et al. 2003). Similar spp No other similar foliage-gleaners occur within its range. Ruddy Woodcreeper Dendrocincla homochroa is superficially similar, but note different foraging behaviour. Voice Its song consists of a series of 4-6 similar resonant notes (Krabbe 2008). Calls include churrs and 2-3 or 3-4 note phrases.


Text account compilers
Hermes, C.

Botero-Delgadillo, E., Fundación ProAves, Sharpe, C.J. & Taylor, J.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Species factsheet: Clibanornis rufipectus. Downloaded from on 23/03/2023. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2023) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 23/03/2023.