Watkins's Antpitta Grallaria watkinsi


Justification of Red List Category
This species is precautionarily listed as Near Threatened as it is feared to have undergone moderately rapid population declines over the past three generations caused by forest loss and degradation. Rates of forest loss have however slowed down considerably in recent years, so that current declines are likely lower.

Population justification
The global population is tentatively placed in the band 10,000-19,999 mature individuals (see Freile et al. 2019). The species is described as 'fairly common' (Stotz et al. 1996).
The species is known from two disjunct areas in El Oro, Loja and Tumbes, as well as in Manabí and Guayas. It is therefore assumed to form two subpopulations, but their respective sizes are unknown.

Trend justification
This species can inhabit dense regenerating scrub and secondary forest, indicating a moderate to high tolerance of habitat degradation and disturbance; however, it is absent from areas described as completely modified or forest patches frequented by livestock. The species has been assessed as being in decline at up to 30% over three generations (12.9 years) based on predictions of high rates of habitat loss in the future (Freile et al. 2010). However over recent years, forest loss has been low within the range (<3% over ten years since 2015; Global Forest Watch 2021); thus the projected rate of population decline over the past three generations may be highly precautionary. Assuming that forest loss is continuing at the same rate into the future, declines may not exceed 10% over the next three generations.

Distribution and population

Grallaria watkinsi is a Tumbesian endemic with a restricted range in south-west Ecuador (mainly El Oro and Loja provinces) and extreme north-west Peru (Tumbes department), with an isolated population on the coastal cordillera of south-west Manabi and western Guayas, Ecuador (Ridgely and Tudor 1994).


The species generally keeps to dense vegetation where it usually stays on or near the ground (Ridgely and Tudor 1994). It inhabits semi-deciduous forest, forest edge, regenerating secondary scrub and secondary forest (Ridgely and Tudor 1994; Stotz et al. 1996; I. Isherwood and J. Willis verbally 1998; Freile et al. 2010). Although it also occurs in areas of dry deciduous forest, it tends to keep to the greener, denser vegetation in narrow ravines (Parker et al. 1995). The species may sometimes associate with mixed species flocks of brush-finches and seedeaters (Parker et al. 1995). It has been recorded from sea level to 1,800 m, but is locally not found below 400 m (Schulenberg et al. 2020). Some seasonal altitudinal movement seems likely to take place, but the exact nature of this is unclear (I. Isherwood and J. Willis verbally 1998).


Clearance of forest and scrub for agricultural land, plus the loss of dense understorey through intense grazing by cattle and goats may adversely affect this species (I. Isherwood and J. Willis verbally 1998). It is however able to tolerate a considerable degree of habitat alteration (Freile et al. 2010).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway 
The species occurs within several protected areas including Machalilla National Park and Jorupe Reserve in Ecuador, and in El Angolo Reserve and Tumbes Reserved Zone in Peru (Parker and Carr 1992; Parker et al. 1995; D. Lebbin in litt. 2012).

Conservation Actions Proposed

Quantify the population size. Assess the subpopulation structure and quantify the subpopulation sizes. Monitor the population trend.


Text account compilers
Hermes, C.

Butchart, S., Ekstrom, J., Fisher, S., Harding, M., Isherwood, I., Lebbin, D., Sharpe, C.J. & Willis, J.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2022) Species factsheet: Grallaria watkinsi. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 06/12/2022. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2022) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 06/12/2022.