White-winged Cotinga Xipholena atropurpurea


Justification of Red List Category
This species is Vulnerable because it has a small and severely fragmented range and a small population in an area where there has been habitat destruction, which is continuing.

Population justification
The National Red List of Brazil (MMA 2014) estimated that the population numbers no more than 10,000 mature individuals. The population is therefore placed in the band of 2,500-9,999 mature individuals.

Trend justification
The population is suspected to be in decline owing to ongoing habitat destruction.

Distribution and population

Xipholena atropurpurea is endemic to the Atlantic forest in east Brazil, from Paraíba south to Rio de Janeiro.  It has been recorded from 29 sites since 1960 (Pereira et al. 2014): Paraíba (old specimens and a few recent records), Pernambuco (several recent records [Pereira et al. 2014]), Alagoas (recent records from two sites), Sergipe, Bahia, Espírito Santo and Rio de Janeiro. The National Red List of Brazil reported in 2014 that the species had not recently been recorded in Rio de Janeiro and is in a critical situation in the Pernambuco centre of endemism (MMA 2014).


It occurs in primary lowland and adjacent foothill Atlantic forest (up to 900 m), mostly in forests near the coast. In the northern part of its range it is found in dense primary forest, more open forest and semi-deciduous forests, but also occurs in selectively logged primary and secondary forests, as well as fragmented woodlots. The diet consists of fruit, especially Moraceae, Myrtaceae and Lauraceae, taken in the forest canopy or around clearings, and some insects (larval Lepidopterans and Orthoptera). It is mostly solitary, gathering only at fruiting trees, though, in south Bahia, birds have been observed associating with C. maculata and thrush Turdus spp. Males display between November and February, and nests (placed high in the fork of a branch) have been found in October and November.


This species is threatened by extensive and continuing deforestation, with nearly 60% of suitable habitat disappearing in the period 1980-1997. Many of the protected areas in which it occurs are still under threat and inadequately protected, such as Monte Pascoal in Bahia. Thirteen out of 29 fruiting trees included in its diet are exploited for timber. An analysis estimated that the proportion of forest lost from within the species's range from 2000-2012 was equivalent to 2.7% over three generation lengths (Tracewski et. al. 2016).  The species is rarely found in bird markets, and is only opportunistically hunted. A widespread fire in July 1995 destroyed most of the forest at one site in Bahia (E. O. Willis and Y. Oniki in litt. 1999), and such instances are a potential threat to many sites.

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
CITES Appendix I. Considered nationally Endangered in Brazil until 2014, it is now classed as Vulnerable (Silveira and Straube 2008, MMA 2014) and protected under Brazilian law. It is largely dependent on 13 protected areas, notably those at Pedra Talhada, Una, Monte Pascoal, Sooretama, Desengano and Linhares.

Conservation Actions Proposed
Survey all remnants of forest within its range. Monitor the population. Effectively protect key sites, especially the privately-owned Murici, Estação Vera Cruz and Linhares. Plant native trees in areas surrounding Sooretama and Linhares.


19 cm. Strikingly patterned cotinga. Male has blackish-purple body, paler on rump and crissum with short tail. White wings with black tips to primaries. Whitish iris. Female has drab grey upperparts with hint of pale eye-stripe. Darker wings fringed white. Dusky tail. Pale grey throat with darker breast mottled whitish. Greyish-white on rest of underparts. Similar spp. Female Banded Cotinga Cotinga maculata is more scaled below, lacks white edging on wing feathers, and has dark eye. Voice High-pitched, hollow tchíu notes. Also wing-whirring in flight.


Text account compilers
Sharpe, C.J., Williams, R., Symes, A., Pople, R., Mazar Barnett, J., Clay, R.P., Wheatley, H.

Oniki, Y., Willis, E.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Species factsheet: Xipholena atropurpurea. Downloaded from on 10/06/2023. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2023) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 10/06/2023.