Selva Cacique Cacicus koepckeae


Justification of Red List category

This species is known from a small number of localities in the Amazon basin. Its population size is moderately small, but despite a slow suspected decline it is currently considered at low risk due to the remoteness of the range. The species is therefore listed as Near Threatened.

Population justification
The species is considered rare and local, but can be locally common (P. Grilli in litt. 2020). The population is provisionally estimated to number 2,500-9,999 mature individuals, but this requires confirmation. The estimate equates to 3,750-14,999 individuals in total, rounded here to 3,500-15,000 individuals.

Trend justification
The species occurs in a remote area, in which forests remain largely unaffected by logging, fragmentation and human encroachment (Global Forest Watch 2020; P. Grilli in litt. 2020). It has been hypothesised that the rate of population decline is around 2% over three generations (P. Grilli in litt. 2020).

Distribution and population

Cacicus koepckeae occurs in the Amazon lowlands of Peru and adjacent western Brazil. It was long known only from the type-locality, Balta, in Loreto (Peru). However, fieldwork in 1998 and 1999 discovered the species on the río Shihuaniro near its confluence with the lower río Urubamba, and on the latter's tributary the upper río Camisea, both Cusco (Gerhart 2004). There were at least two possible sightings from Manu National Park, Madre de Dios, during the 1980s, but owing to the lack of subsequent records these were often disregarded (Tobias 2003). However, in 2001, three groups were found near Cocha Cashu Biological Station (Tobias 2003), lending credence to the earlier Manu records. It was subsequently also discovered in the Santuario Nacional Megantoni (Vriesendorp et al. 2004), together with an unconfirmed report from the Parque Nacional Cordillera Azul (H. Lloyd in litt. 2007). Recently it has been reported in Acre (Brazil).


It inhabits humid riparian forests in the lowlands and foothills at elevations of 340-660 m (Gerhart 2004; Grilli et al. 2012; Fraga et al. 2016; P. Grilli in litt. 2020). All records are from early-successional river-margin habitats, including Gymnerium canebreaks, bamboo stands (Guadua spp.), fast-growing trees (Cecropia spp., Erytrhina spp., Ochroma pyramidale) and transitional forest on banks and islands (Gerhart 2004; P. Grilli in litt. 2020). In particular, small watercourses and bamboo stands were found to be predictors of the species's presence (P. Grilli in litt. 2020). It occurs along relatively narrow rivers, but apparently not lower parts of major rivers such as the río Urubamba (Gerhart 2004; Grilli et al. 2012). It is arboreal, with pairs or small groups moving steadily through the canopy of transitional forest (Gerhart 2004; P. Grilli in litt. 2020). It feeds on fruits and nectar (P. Grilli in litt. 2020). Breeding takes place during the dry season; nests are constructed from hyphae of Marasmius fungi and are placed on branches over watercourses (P. Grilli in litt. 2020). The type-specimen was one of a party of six birds that were seen bathing and drinking, and groups of four to six have been recorded elsewhere (Tobias 2003).


The only threat known to the species is habitat loss. However, within its remote range forests remain largely unaffected by logging, fragmentation and human encroachment (Global Forest Watch 2020; P. Grilli in litt. 2020).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
It has now been confirmed to occur in Manu National Park (Tobias 2003) and in the Megantoni National Sanctuary (Vriesendorp et al. 2004), and may also occur in the Cordillera Azul National Park (H. Lloyd in litt. 2007).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Survey to clarify the species's range and population, especially in the headwater regions of the ríos Alto Manu, Serjali, Mishagua, Cashpajali, de las Piedras, Cujar, Alto Purús, Curanja and possibly into west Brazil (Gerhart 2004). Investigate the extent to which secondary or degraded habitats are tolerated (Gerhart 2004). Increase the area of suitable habitat that has protected status. Effectively resource and manage existing and new protected areas, utilising emerging opportunities to finance protected area management with the joint aims of reducing carbon emissions and maximizing biodiversity conservation. Conservation on private lands, through expanding market pressures for sound land management and preventing forest clearance on lands unsuitable for agriculture, is also essential (Soares-Filho et al. 2006).


23 cm. Medium-sized, black icterid. Square, yellow rump patch. Relatively small-headed appearance. Bluish-white iris. Bluish-grey bill, paler on tip and relatively small for an icterid. Similar spp. Most similar to allopatric Mountain Cacique C. chrysonotus. Voice Somewhat variable and generally quiet, but gives rather loud, rapid series of explosive, paired chick-pouw notes, with some three-syllabled notes interspersed. Also quick succession of sharp chih notes, more widely-spaced chih-chih, pouw-pouw phrases. Pairs have been heard giving bursts of six phrase-types combined into long sequence.


Text account compilers
Hermes, C.

Gilroy, J., Grilli, P., Lloyd, H., Pople, R. & Sharpe, C.J.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Species factsheet: Cacicus koepckeae. Downloaded from http://datazone.birdlife.org/species/factsheet/selva-cacique-cacicus-koepckeae on 27/09/2023. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2023) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://datazone.birdlife.org on 27/09/2023.