Short-crested Coquette Lophornis brachylophus


Justification of Red List Category
This species is only known from along one road and apparently occupies an extremely small range. Combined with habitat destruction and degradation, this qualifies the species as Critically Endangered. However, surveys may find the species to be more widespread, which could result in downlisting to Endangered.

Population justification
The population is estimated to number 250-999 mature individuals based on an assessment of known records, descriptions of abundance and range size. This is consistent with recorded population density estimates for congeners or close relatives with a similar body size, and the fact that only a proportion of the estimated extent of occurrence is likely to be occupied. This estimate is equivalent to 375-1,499 individuals in total, rounded here to 350-1,500 individuals.

Trend justification
During the 1990s, semi-deciduous forest in the species's range was rapidly cleared. However, illegal cultivation for the drug trade has rendered an assessment of habitat quality problematic recently. While new data are lacking, the species is suspected to be continuing to decline at a rate of 10-19% over ten years, owing to forest clearance.

Distribution and population

Lophornis brachylophus is only known from a 25 km stretch of the Atoyac-Paraíso-Puerto del Gallo road in the Sierra de Atoyac (north-west of Acapulco), and is likely to be confined to the Sierra Madre del Sur in Guerrero, Mexico. All records have been near the villages of Arroyo Grande, Paraíso and Nueva Delhi in the months of January-July (S. Hansson in litt. 2010). At least seasonally, it can be locally fairly common to uncommon (Howell and Webb 1995). It is currently assessed as having an extremely small Extent of Occurrence, but a recent analysis by Sierra-Morales et al. (2016) suggests that the potential habitat available to this species could be considerably larger than this.


It inhabits humid to semi-humid evergreen and semi-deciduous forest, forest edge and shade coffee plantations at elevations of 900-1,800 m, where it feeds on the flowers of Inga and Cecropia (Howell and Webb 1995), though cloud and pine-oak forests are potentially the main vegetation types for the species (Sierra-Morales et al. 2016). There are local reports to 650 m suggesting that it may migrate altitudinally, breeding at higher elevations (possibly November-February), and spending March-August (possibly longer) at lower altitudes (Howell and Webb 1995). Fieldwork in 2011 identified eight species of plant used by the species, and documented interaction with other hummingbird species; observations showed the species is not territorial (BirdLife International 2012).


In the early 1990s, semi-deciduous forest between Paraíso and Nueva Delhi was being rapidly cleared for the cultivation of maize, fruit and coffee, and habitat winthin the species's known range continues to be reduced as a result of land-use changes (Sierra-Morales et al. 2016). Much of the remaining forest provides cover for illegal drug-growing, making an evaluation of habitat quality difficult (S. N. G. Howell in litt. 1998).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
CITES Appendix II. A project funded by Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund ran from 2010-2011 aiming to determine the status and habitat requirements, and to plan and build local capacity for its conservation (BirdLife International 2012). Project activities included research to assess relative abundance, specific habitat requirements, distribution and threats; a general bird inventory; increasing environmental awareness through education with schoolteachers and community members; a training course for key community members on reserve management, conservation and sustainable use of natural resources to support an existing community reserve network; a booklet on birds in nahuatl, the local indigenous language; a draft species action plan and a draft conservation strategy for the Sierra de Atoyac, involving key stakeholders. The plan will address actions including developing ecologically sensitive farming practices, ecotourism and a waste management programme (Anon 2012). At workshops organized by the Bosque Nuboso Civilian Association for local communities in the three study areas, participants, including high school students, learnt about the importance of ecosystems and natural resources, the critical status of the Short-crested Coquette and the need for conservation planning in the Sierra de Atoyac. Through a “SWOT” analysis carried out during the workshops, information was obtained on the current status of conservation actions in the area and also local capacity for conservation. The workshops improved local community understanding of the issues, and increased awareness of the threats to the Short-crested Coquette and other bird species in the region. In 2011 fieldwork was carried out on six occasions by the Universidad Autónoma de México (UNAM) at three sites where the species had been recorded in the past.

Conservation Actions Proposed
Designate a protected area in the Sierra de Atoyac (Hernández-Baños et al. 1995) incorporating the known range of this species. Survey to clarify the full extent of this species's distribution. Survey to assess the impact of shade coffee plantations on this species and understand its altitudinal movements; and also to document on their interactions with plant species of the region (P. Sierra-Morales in litt. 2016). If it is confirmed that the species performs altitudinal migration; ensure protection of habitat across its altitudinal range (Anon. 2012).


7 cm. Tiny, well-marked hummingbird. Male has bronze-green upperparts with rufous crown and crest. White band on upper rump and bronze-purple lower rump. Green central rectrices, others cinnamon-rufous tipped black. Glistening green throat. Short, orange cheek-tufts tipped green. Whitish band below throat and rest of underparts pale cinnamon. Female lacks crest (crown orange) and cheek patch. Buffy band on rump and duller lower rump. Throat whitish. Rest of underparts pale cinnamon. Black subterminal bar on tail and buff tips to outer rectrices. Similar spp. Bumblebee Hummingbird Atthis heloisa and Sparkling-tailed Hummingbird Tilmatura dupontii are similar-sized, but both have green crown and lack rump-band in all plumages. Voice Generally silent. Sometimes sharp chips.


Text account compilers
Symes, A., Taylor, J., Westrip, J., Bird, J., Butchart, S., Ashpole, J, Benstead, P., Capper, D., Hermes, C., Isherwood, I., Sharpe, C.J.

Sierra-Morales, P., Ríos-Muñoz, C., Howell, S., Hansson, S.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2020) Species factsheet: Lophornis brachylophus. Downloaded from on 04/07/2020. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2020) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 04/07/2020.