Tolima Dove Leptotila conoveri


Justification of Red List Category
This species occurs in a moderately small range, where natural vegetation has already been largely destroyed several decades ago. Even though rates of forest loss have slowed down recently, the species is nevertheless suspected to be undergoing a slow decline, and it may be restricted to several small subpopulations. The species is therefore listed as Near Threatened. 

Population justification
Previously, the population was estimated to number 4,200 individuals in total, based on density estimates of 3.6 individuals/km2 (Renjifo et al. 2014), which roughly equals 2,800 mature individuals. However, this may have been a underestimate, with the species known to have differentiating occupancy rates based on elevation (Escudero-Páez et al. 2018). Recent density estimates are as such higher at 20.6 individuals/km2, with a maximum density of 56 individuals/km2 recorded in the department of Tolima. Assuming that the species only occupies parts of its mapped range, the population may therefore number as high as 16,000-44,000 individuals, converted to 11,000-29,000 mature individuals. However, precautionarily assuming that population size is closer to the lower estimate, it may be tentatively placed in the band of 10,000-19,000 mature individuals. Based on the high degree of fragmentation of its habitat, it is also likely that the species forms several small, disjunct subpopulations.

Trend justification
The population is though to be undergoing a slow decline, mainly due to the loss and degradation of its habitat, but the rate of decline has not been quantified directly. Global Forest Watch (2020) measured the forest loss within this species’s range to be <5% over 3 generations (14.1 years; Bird et al. 2020), with the assumption that habitat loss is continuing at the same rate. Despite ready tolerance to degraded habitats and occurrence in agricultural areas, in parts of its range the species is additionally hunted for food (Renjifo et al. 2014). As a consequence, it is inferred that the species is declining at <10% over three generations.

Distribution and population

Tolima Dove is endemic to Colombia, where it occurs on the eastern slope of the Central Andes and locally in the East Andes between 1,250 and 2,500 m. The species is known from different sites in the departments of Tolima (Coello-Combeima river system near Ibagué), El Hato, Huila (headwaters of the río Magdalena), Cauca (Casas-Cruz and Ayerbe-Quiñones 2006), Cundinamarca (González-Prieto et al. 2014), and Caldas (Escudero-Páez et al. 2018). Reserva Natural de la Sociedad Civil El Encanto (private protected area) in Palestina (A. Carvajal-Rueda in litt. 2020). The species is fairly common at one site in Tolima (P. Salaman in litt. 1999). The species is now considered more abundant across more than 50 sites, with over 600 recent records (P. Salaman in litt. 2020). It has particularly high density in the municipalities of Chaparral, Ibagué, and Líbano and are thus considered important areas for the species (Escudero-Páez et al. 2018). Increased observations is likely due to an increase in bird watching and ornithological activities within the species's range, improving site knowledge of species that were previously considered rare and localised (Cortés et al. 2020). 


It inhabits mainly humid forests and bushy forest edges, but is also observed in secondary forest as well as in open, disturbed areas, and occasionally in coffee groves and near houses (Baptista et al. 2019). It is also common in agricultural mosaics where forest fragments remain (Escudero-Páez et al. 2018). It adapts to the rural landscape, nests in coffee bushes and feeds on seeds of species from disturbed areas (Carvajal-Rueda and Losada-Prado 2011), it has also been observed in cacao groves, orchards and annual crops as long as there are patches of forest surrounding areas in good condition, scrub and abundant secondary vegetation (Casas-Cruz and Ayerbe-Quiñones 2006, Carvajal-Rueda et al. 2014). It ranges from the subtropical zones at 1,250 m to 2,380 m, and as high as 2,500 m; prime elevation range is likely 1,625-2,050 (Escudero-Páez et al. 2018). Foraging occurs on continuous areas with streams, forest patches and crops. Individuals collected in Huila in March/April and in Tolima in June were in breeding condition. Its primary diet consists of fallen seeds, fruit, and occasionally insects, corn , and beans (Escudero-Páez et al. 2018).  


The species is likely in slow decline as a consequence of the loss and degradation of its habitat, with remaining habitat covering less than 5,000 km2 (Escudero-Páez et al. 2018). Since the 18th century, forests in the Upper Magdalena Valley have been logged for agriculture (Stiles et al. 1999). Nevertheless, when the type specimen was collected in 1942, the higher valleys of the Toche area in Tolima were still heavily forested. Particularly since the 1950s, habitat clearance and fragmentation has been accelerating, and forests have been cleared and converted for mining, agroforestry, agriculture, including plantations of coffee, cocoa, potatoes and beans, or cattle pastures (P. Salaman in litt. 1999). Mature secondary forest patches are now fragmented, and it is estimated that between 1,900 and 3,200 m, only c.15% of the natural forest cover is left (P. Salaman in litt. 1999, López-Lanús et al. 2000, Casas-Cruz and Ayerbe-Quiñones 2006, Carvajal-Rueda et al. 2014). The species had lost 70.5% of its original habitat and in the period 2000-2010 it lost 8.6%, thus, it was estimated that the species could continue to decline in terms of area of occupancy, extension and/or quality of habitat and number of individuals (Renjifo et al. 2014). Hunting for food and domestication purposes has been observed; the reproductive season coincides with the coffee harvest, which can affect the nests built in these bushes (Casas-Cruz and Ayerbe-Quiñones 2006, Carvajal-Rueda and Losada-Prado 2011). Land use conflicts may lead to displacement of the species (Escudero-Páez et al. 2018).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
In Colombia, it was formerly considered Endangered (Renjifo et al. 2002), but is now assessed as Vulnerable at the national level (Renjifo et al. 2014). IIt is found in the zones of Nevado del Huila National Natural Park and Los Nevados National Natural Parks (Carvajal-Rueda et al. 2014). 11% of the remaining habitat is thus thought to exist within protected areas (Escudero-Páez et al. 2018). Additionally, 12 areas in the Colombian Sistema Nacional de Áreas Protegidas overlap with the species's range. It is also thought to be present in 121 private reserves, equating to 13.5 km2 in coverage (Escudero-Páez et al. 2018). A conservation plan was designated in 2018.  An integrated conservation programme for the forests around the type-locality should benefit this and other threatened species in the area. Action for the Yellow-eared Parrot Ognorhynchus icterotis has increased public awareness and community involvement in conservation issues in the río Toche area, Tolima (Salaman et al. 1999), which should also benefit this species. Protected areas such as the Natural Reserves of Civil Society and complementary conservation initiatives such as the San Jorge Botanical Garden and the Alto Combeima Forest Reserve in Ibagué also contribute to maintaining the habitat of this species; The Tolima-Antocephala Ornithological Association has carried out different environmental awareness and education strategies around the road and supported the process of declaring it an emblematic bird of the municipality of Lebanon Tolima (Guerra-Ruiz per A. Carvajal-Rueda in litt. 2020). It is included in six Important Bird Areas, including Ibanazca, Cañon del río Combeima, Cuenca del río Toche, Reservas Comunitarias de Roncesvalles, Cuenca del río San Miguel and Nevado del Huila (Escudero-Páez et al. 2018). 

Conservation Actions Proposed
Evaluate forest cover in its range and follow-up with surveys of larger blocks to determine the current population and distribution (López-Lanús et al. 2000). Investigate the ecological requirements of this species, especially the degree to which it tolerates modified habitats. Establish a captive breeding programme (Collar and Butchart 2013). Protect a stronghold area, if found (López-Lanús et al. 2000). As devised on the recent inclusion of the species in a designated conservation plan, strategies proposed include designing of management that enables systems such as shade coffee, allowing protection of the species and strengthening of local agriculture, maintaining the population in the three priority areas of the Tolima department, supporting initiatives that enable socio-econonic change in adopting diverse agroforestry schemes, strengthening the partnership between various stakeholders, and reducing habitat and hunting pressures through education programmes (Escudero-Páez et al. 2018).


25 cm. Plump, buff-bellied terrestrial dove. Blue-grey crown to nape becoming dark brown on the rest of upperparts. White forehead and throat, with dark vinaceous-buff sides of neck and upper breast in sharp contrast to buff lower breast and abdomen. Slaty-brown tail with small white tips to outermost feathers. Cinnamon-rufous wing-coverts visible in flight. White eye with bare, bright red eye-ring. Black bill and pink legs. Similar spp. All other Colombian Leptotila spp. have whitish (not deep buff) bellies. In range, only confusable with White-tipped Dove L. verreauxi, which also differs in white crown and more extensive white tail tips. Voice Unknown but probably like other Leptotila spp.


Text account compilers
Fernando, E.

Benstead, P., Botero-Delgadillo, E., Carvajal-Rueda, A., Fundación ProAves, Isherwood, I., Lara, S., Ruiz, C., Salaman, P.G.W., Sharpe, C.J., Stuart, T. & Symes, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2022) Species factsheet: Leptotila conoveri. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 23/05/2022. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2022) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 23/05/2022.