Tawny-faced Quail Rhynchortyx cinctus


Justification of Red List Category
A recent increase in deforestation rates in parts of the range suggest that this species is now undergoing a moderately rapid decline. It therefore qualifies as Near Threatened.

Population justification
The population size is suspected to fall in the range 50,000-499,999 mature individuals (Partners in Flight 2020). The species can be locally common in parts of its range, but is generally only infrequently observed (Carroll et al. 2020).

Trend justification
The population is undergoing a large, significant decline owing to ongoing habitat destruction and unsustainable levels of hunting (del Hoyo et al. 1994, Carroll et al. 2020, Partners in Flight 2020). Locally, the species may also suffer from predation by dogs and cats (D. F. Cisneros-Heredia in litt. 2022), but the impacts on the population size are unclear.
Over the last three generations (12.3 years; Bird et al. 2020), approximately 9% of tree cover has been lost within the range (Global Forest Watch 2021, using Hansen et al. [2013] data and methods disclosed therein). This species is restricted to the floor and lower strata of lowland forest (Carroll et al. 2020); therefore it is conceivable that population declines are faster than the rate of forest loss alone, as forest degradation may increase the rate of decline by an additional 5%. Even though the impact of hunting has not been quantified, it is tentatively assumed that this threat increases the rate of population decline by a further 5%, so that overall the rate of decline over the past three generations would amount to 19%. To account for uncertainty, the rate of past decline is here placed in the band 1-19% over three generations.
Since 2016 tree cover loss has been accelerating to a rate equivalent to 12% over three generations. Accounting for the additional impacts of forest degradation and hunting, it is assumed that the rate of population decline exceeds the rate of forest loss by 10%, so that the population decline over the next three generations would amount to 22%. To account for uncertainty, the rate of decline projected forward from 2016 is here paced in the band 20-29% over three generations. These values however require confirmation.

Distribution and population

This species has a disjunct range from northern Honduras, eastern Nicaragua and northern Costa Rica to Panama, Colombia and northwestern Ecuador.


This species occurs on the floor and in the lower understory of lowland forests up to 1,400 m. It is reluctant to fly and usually moves by walking or running. It feeds on seeds and insects, and is mostly found in pairs or small groups of up to eight individuals (Carroll et al. 2020).


The species is threatened by the clearance and degradation of forests throughout its range, mainly for cattle ranching, plantations and agriculture (Carroll et al. 2020). Tree cover loss is particularly severe in the northern part of its range in Central America, and the rate of deforestation has been increasing over the last five years (Global Forest Watch 2021, using Hansen et al. [2013] data and methods disclosed therein). Hunting is a further threat (Carroll et al. 2020). Locally, it is suffering from predation by cats and dogs (D. F. Cisneros-Heredia in litt. 2022).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
The species occurs in several protected areas throughout its range.

Conservation Actions Needed
Survey to quantify the population size. Assess the population trend. Quantify the level of hunting and its impact on the population size. Monitor the population trend.
Protect suitable habitat within the range. Raise awareness for the species.


Text account compilers
Hermes, C.

Butchart, S., Cisneros-Heredia, D.F., Ekstrom, J. & Westrip, J.R.S.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Species factsheet: Rhynchortyx cinctus. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 05/02/2023. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2023) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 05/02/2023.