Swallow-tailed Cotinga Phibalura flavirostris


Justification of Red List category
This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (extent of occurrence <20,000 km² combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size may be moderately small to large, but it is not believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.

Population justification
The population size has not been quantified, but the species is described as generally rare or very rare to locally uncommon, even within protected areas (del Hoyo et al. 2020). Based on available evidence, the population is precautionarily suspected to number 20,000-49,999 mature individuals, though an exact population estimate is urgently required.

Trend justification
The population is apparently declining, though the causes are unclear (Ridgely and Tudor 1994, del Hoyo et al. 2020). Despite its for open habitats with scattered trees, extensive habitat conversion within the range is probably negatively affecting the population (del Hoyo et al. 2020).

Distribution and population

Phibalura flavirostris is found in south-east Brazil (from Bahia and central Minas Gerais south to Rio Grande do Sul), north-east Argentina (Misiones, with very few recent records; Bodrati and Cockle 2006, Bodrati et al. 2010, B. Phalan in litt. 2022) and east Paraguay (Canindeyú, Alto Paraná, Guairá and possibly Itapúa, but only four records and none since 1977). It is apparently a partial migrant, occurring in Rio Grande do Sul only during the austral summer and in Mato Grosso do Sul during austral winter (Snow 1982, Ridgely and Tudor 1994, B. Phalan in litt. 2022). It is no longer recorded in Goiás (B. Phalan in litt. 2022).


The species is not dependent on primary forest, apparently preferring forest borders, partially or lightly wooded areas, and clearings and gardens with scattered trees (where it often nests) (Ridgely and Tudor 1994, del Hoyo et al. 2020). It occurs from near sea level to 2,000 m. It is an altitudinal migrant, nesting in montane regions and descending during the austral winter (Snow 1982, Ridgely and Tudor 1994). Moreover, part of the population migrates south for the breeding season (del Hoyo et al. 2020).


Extensive deforestation has presumably had some impact, but its preference for forest borders, partially or lightly wooded areas, and clearings and gardens suggests that it can tolerate some habitat degradation. In Brazil, the species is sometimes hunted for food (del Hoyo et al. 2020).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
It occurs in several protected areas within the range, including Itatiatia, Serra dos Orgãos and Chapada Diamantina national parks, as  well as in Intervales State Park, Brazil.

Conservation Actions Proposed
Survey to quantify the population size and trend. Study its ecology, migration and ability to persist in degraded and fragmented habitats. Investigate the reasons for its apparent decline. Monitor the population trend. Effectively protect significant areas of suitable habitat. Raise awareness for the species with the aim of decreasing hunting pressure.


21-22 cm. A beautiful and strongly patterned cotinga with a long, forked tail. The male has a blackish head with blue gloss. Small red crown patch and blurred brownish grey supercilium. Bright golden yellow throat and cheeks. White line from behind auriculars connect with white breast heavily barred black. Rest of underparts yellow, brighter on crissum, with sparse shaft-like streaks. Upperparts yellowish olive coarsely barred blackish, more dense on nape. Blackish wings, pale grey spots on tertials. Long and forked tail blackish with olivaceous base to outer rectrices; often held separated, in a 'V' shape. Pinkish eyering. Female is duller; greyer on head, less white on neck, more olive on wings and the shorter tail. Similar spp. Unmistakable. Voice Mostly silent, but a high guttural whistle ghewt ghewt has been reported. Hints Perches still for long periods high in the edge of forests, open woodlands and gardens.


Text account compilers
Hermes, C.

Capper, D., Hennessey, A.B., Mansur, E.F, O'Brien, A., Phalan, B., Serpa, G., Sharpe, C.J. & Symes, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Species factsheet: Phibalura flavirostris. Downloaded from on 09/12/2023.
Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2023) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 09/12/2023.