Slaty Becard Pachyramphus spodiurus


Justification of Red List Category
This species qualifies as Vulnerable because it is thought to be undergoing a rapid decline as a consequence of ongoing habitat loss and degradation. Further information on distribution, population size and trends may show that the species is less threatened than feared.

Population justification
The population is estimated to number 1,000-2,499 mature individuals.

Trend justification
A rapid and ongoing population decline is suspected due to forest loss and degradation.

Distribution and population

Pachyramphus spodiurus is rare and local in the west lowlands of Ecuador (from Esmeraldas and Pichincha south to Loja) and extreme north-west Peru (Tumbes, north Piura, Cajamarca and Amazonas). A study conducted in 2009-2010 in Peru identified fourteen new localities in Tumbes and Piura (S. Crespo in litt. 2012).


The species occurs mostly below 750 m, but locally ranges as high as 1,100 m. It inhabits lowland deciduous, semi-deciduous and humid woodland, but also shrubby clearings with scattered tall trees, patches of evergreen shrubbery and second growth within humid forest (Best and Kessler 1995, Clements and Shany 2001, Ridgely and Greenfield 2001). It forages in the canopy of semi-deciduous forest, where the mean height of trees is c.10 m. Its habits are largely unknown, although its diet is presumed to be insects and fruit. Like other species of the same region, it is believed to breed in the rainy season (January-March) and a nests have been found in February and April (Rheindt 2008, Gelis et al. 2009), and juveniles in June (S. Crespo in litt. 2012).


The main threats to the species are habitat loss due to agricultural expansion and subsequent herbicide use, selective felling of valuable trees and persistent grazing by goats and cattle inside and outside of protected areas (S. Crespo in litt. 2012, L. Brunetti in litt. 2019). The rate of deforestation in western Ecuador below 900 m in 1958-1988 was 57% per decade (Dodson and Gentry 1991). Recent estimates of forest loss for the northern Ecuadorian Chocó report that 68% of the original forest cover below 400 m and 50% of the original forest cover between 400 and 1000 m has been lost (Finer and Mamani 2019). 20% of the forest has been cleared between 2000 and 2018 (Finer and Mamani 2019). Significant habitat loss continues in both Ecuador and Peru, at least in unprotected areas, and soon all lowland forest will have been removed unless effective action is taken urgently. Heavy grazing by goats and cattle causes disturbance and degradation of the understorey in remaining deciduous woodland (J. Freile in litt. 2019). However, the species has been reported to persist in some areas that have been subject to a substantial degree of habitat degradation (Ridgely and Greenfield 2001). The severe earthquake in the Manabí province of western Ecuador in 2016 potentially had a large impact on the species, as deforestation rates have been accelerating locally (L. Brunetti in litt. 2019).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway

Apart from the El Angolo Hunting Reserve, where it is rare (Barrio et al. 2015), and the Tumbes Reserved Zone (part of the Northwest Peru Biosphere Reserve), where it is uncommon, it has not been recorded from any other protected area that is sufficiently large to support a viable population. The species is listed as Vulnerable at the national level in Ecuador (Freile et al. 2018).

Conservation Actions Proposed

Conduct further surveys for the species in the Marañón drainage. Investigate the ecological requirements of the species. Effectively protect the Northwest Peru Biosphere Reserve. Establish additional protected areas for the species. Work with local communities to achieve conservation objectives (S. Crespo in litt. 2012).


14 cm. Typical becard in shape and posture. Male has predominantly dark slaty upperparts, with black crown contrasting with whitish supraloral and forehead. Some black in mantle, and blackish wings and tail, with whitish edges to wing feathers. Lacks wing-bars. Uniform grey underparts. Female has bright cinnamon-rufous upperparts, darker on crown, and black primary coverts and outer primaries. Whitish supraloral spot and underparts, with some buff on throat sides, breast and flanks. Similar spp. Female frequently confused, especially with Cinnamon Becard P. cinnamomeus, but differs in having black (not reddish-brown) primary coverts, and less white throat and belly. Both sexes resemble One-coloured Becard P. homochrous, which is larger, heavier-billed, lacks pale lores, and the males of which have almost plain wings. Voice Song a fast series of musical notes on descending pitch, ti-ti-ti-ti-tee-tee-the-the-tu. Hints Forages close to the ground more frequently than other becards.


Text account compilers
Symes, A., Temple, H., Pople, R., Hermes, C., Sharpe, C.J., Isherwood, I.

Brunetti, L., Crespo, SIC, Freile, J., Lloyd, H. & Schaefer, H.M.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2022) Species factsheet: Pachyramphus spodiurus. Downloaded from on 06/12/2022. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2022) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 06/12/2022.