Tacarcuna Tapaculo Scytalopus panamensis


Justification of Red List Category
This species is listed as Vulnerable because it is known only from a very small area on a single mountain range.

Population justification
The 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
Given that the species is not currently subject to any direct threats, it is suspected to be stable.

Distribution and population

Scytalopus panamensis is known from Cerros Tacarcuna and Mali, adjacent mountains on the Serranía de Tacarcuna in east Darién, Panama, and north Chocó, Colombia (Ridgely and Gwynne 1989). It has a very small range, but is common in suitable habitat (Ridgely and Gwynne 1989, Wege 1996).


It inhabits the undergrowth of humid, mossy forest, between 1,020 and 1,460 m altitude (Ridgely and Gwynne 1989, Wege 1996).


Its small range puts it at inherent risk from any habitat loss or degradation. Habitat in this region is being cleared and degraded for mining, agriculture and cultivation of coca (Wege 1996), but probably not yet within the altitudinal range of this species. Completion of the Pan-American highway link through Darién could lead to severe, long-term damage to the forests in Darién and adjacent Chocó (Alvarez-Cordero et al. 1994, Wege 1996).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
Darién National Park, Panama, protects all but the small Colombian part of its range (Wege 1996). However, legal protection has not halted habitat loss at lower altitudes (Wege 1996).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Survey for the species throughout the Serranía de Tacarcuna where feasible. Develop active conservation management schemes to control activities that threaten birds in Darién (Wege 1996). Extend Los Katíos National Park to include the high-altitude part of the Tacarcuna ridge in Colombia (P. G. W. Salaman in litt. 1999).


11.4 cm. Dark tapaculo. Sooty black above. Conspicuous greyish-white supercilium. Grey below, with paler throat and mottling on breast. Cinnamon-brown barred black lower back, flanks, belly and crissum. Female similar, but browner back. Similar spp. Whitish supercilium unique in Scytalopus. Voice Song piping series tseety-seety seety seety... or strident tuh tu-tu-tu-t lasting 1.5 seconds. Repeated at several second intervals.


Text account compilers
Isherwood, I., Pilgrim, J., Pople, R., Sharpe, C J, Stuart, T., Symes, A.

Salaman, P.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2019) Species factsheet: Scytalopus panamensis. Downloaded from on 16/10/2019. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2019) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 16/10/2019.