Slaty Becard Pachyramphus spodiurus


Justification of Red List Category
This species qualifies as Endangered as it has a very small and severely fragmented range, which is declining rapidly owing to ongoing habitat loss. Although it may show some tolerance of degraded habitat, the species appears to be genuinely rare and to be undergoing population decline. 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 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 667-1,666 mature individuals, rounded here to 600-1,700 mature individuals.

Trend justification
A rapid and ongoing population decline is suspected, based on rates of habitat loss.

Distribution and population

Pachyramphus spodiurus is rare and very 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). There have been very few recent records, particularly in Peru and the north of its Ecuadorian range, and it appears likely that it has suffered a serious decline. However, in Peru, a study conducted in 2009-2010 identified fourteen new localities, six in Tumbes and eight in Piura  (S. Crespo in litt. 2012).


It inhabits deciduous, semi-deciduous and humid woodland, shrubby clearings with scattered tall trees, patches of evergreen shrubbery and second growth within humid forest, mostly below 750 m, but locally as high as 1,100 m (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 (Rheindt 2008) and April (Gelis et al. 2009), and juveniles in June (S. Crespo in litt. 2012).


Below 900 m, the rate of deforestation in west Ecuador in 1958-1988 was 57% per decade (Dodson and Gentry 1991). Significant habitat loss continues in both Ecuador and Peru, at least in unprotected areas, and will soon have removed almost all lowland forest, unless effective action is taken urgently. Heavy grazing by goats and cattle causes disturbance and degradation of the understorey in remaining deciduous woodland. In Peru deforestation to make way for agricultural expansion, selective felling of valuable trees and persistent grazing by goats and cattle inside and outside protected areas are the main threats (S. Crespo in litt. 2012). 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).

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.

Conservation Actions Proposed
Conduct further surveys for the species in the Marañón drainage. Establish its ecological requirements. 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
Isherwood, I., Pople, R., Sharpe, C J, Symes, A. & Temple, H.

Lloyd, H. & Crespo, SIC

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2019) Species factsheet: Pachyramphus spodiurus. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 26/08/2019. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2019) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 26/08/2019.