Speckle-chested Piculet Picumnus steindachneri


Justification of Red List Category
This species is known from few locations, has a small overall range, and is seriously threatened by continuing deforestation, which is predicted to cause very rapid declines over the next three generations. Because of the rate of this predicted decline it has been uplisted to Endangered.

Population justification
The species is described as uncommon and geographically restricted. Its population size is preliminarily estimated to fall into the band 10,000-19,999 individuals. This equates to 6,667-13,333 mature individuals, rounded here to 6,000-15,000 mature individuals.

Trend justification
This species is suspected to lose 64.6-65.2% of suitable habitat within its distribution over three generations (13 years) based on a model of Amazonian deforestation (Soares-Filho et al. 2006, Bird et al. 2011). It is therefore suspected to decline by ≥50% over three generations.

Distribution and population

Picumnus steindachneri occurs in the central Huallaga valley and very locally in the Utcubamba valley in the Andes of north-west San Martín and south-east Amazonas, Peru (Schulenberg et al. 2007). It is known from very few locations (Taczanowski 1882, Hornbuckle 1999b, R. Webster and R. A. Rowlett in litt. 1998, J. Fjeldså in litt. 1999, 2007), but there are no recent records from the type-locality near Mendoza, and it is likely to have been extirpated from the area. Despite this, the proliferation of recent records suggests that it is more widespread than previously thought (Gorman and Sharpe 2015). It has been described as fairly common or common in the Abra Patricia area (the best-known location) (Hornbuckle 1999b).


It inhabits humid tropical and lower montane forests with many epiphytes and tall secondary growth at elevations from 1,100 m to at least 2,200 m (Winkler et al. 1995, J. Fjeldså in litt. 1999, 2007, Clements and Shany 2001). Has been found in new second growth (Begazo et al. 2001, Winkler et al. 2014), but appears to require at least proximity to primary forest (Gorman and Sharpe 2015). It may be seen singly, in pairs or small family groups, and often moves through the canopy with mixed-species flocks (Winkler et al. 1995, R. Webster and R. A. Rowlett in litt. 1998).


Forests within its range have been logged since 1930 or earlier (Dillon and Sánchez Vega 1999). Deforestation for coca plantations was a threat in the early 1980s, but commercial production now appears to have ceased in the area (Dillon and Sánchez Vega 1999). Continuing population growth and immigration have led to heavy disturbance of (and deep intrusions into) forests where the species occurs, both through clear-cutting and selective logging (Dillon and Sánchez Vega 1999). This situation is particularly concerning in the south-east of its range, where forest is now confined to the highest slopes (Dillon and Sánchez Vega 1999). Large areas have been converted to agriculture (especially coffee plantations) and pastures (Dinerstein et al. 1995, Dillon and Sánchez Vega 1999, Hornbuckle 1999b).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
It occurs in Alto Mayo Protected Forest, which was designated in 1986 to protect the río Alto Mayo watershed for agricultural sustainability (Dillon and Sánchez Vega 1999). However, forest clearance has continued unabated (Dillon and Sánchez Vega 1999). Discussions with local leaders, public talks and media interviews have been conducted to advocate protection of forests in north-west San Martín (Dillon and Sánchez Vega 1999).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Conduct further surveys of the isolated east-Andean ridges of this region (Hornbuckle 1999b). Assess population status and ecological requirements (Gorman and Sharpe 2015). Control logging and habitat conversion in Alto Mayo Protected Forest, working with agricultural interests to protect the watershed. Support conservation groups currently working to protect forests in the region (Hornbuckle 1999b). Proposed sites for protection are listed in Angulo et al. (2008).


10 cm. Tiny, black-and-white woodpecker. Dark grey upperparts with faint pale scaling. Prominent white fringes to wing feathers. Black crown and breast spotted white. White belly barred black. Male has extensive red tips to crown feathers. Voice High-pitched trill lasting several seconds.


Text account compilers
Benstead, P., Capper, D., Sharpe, C J, Stuart, T., Symes, A.

Webster, R., Angulo Pratolongo, F., Rowlett, R., Fjeldså, J.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Species factsheet: Picumnus steindachneri. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 21/03/2023. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2023) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 21/03/2023.