Yellow-breasted Antwren Herpsilochmus axillaris


Justification of Red List Category

Based on a model of future deforestation and its sensitivity to fragmentation and disturbance it is suspected that the population of this species will decline rapidly over the next three generations, and it has therefore been uplisted to Vulnerable.

Population justification
The global population size has not been quantified, but this species is described as 'uncommon' (Stotz et al. 1996, Ridgely and Tudor 2009, Zimmer et al. 2016).

Trend justification
This species is suspected to lose 26-26.9% of suitable habitat within its distribution over three generations (14 years) based on a model of Amazonian deforestation (Soares-Filho et al. 2006, Bird et al. 2011). Given the susceptibility of the species to fragmentation and/or edge effects, it is therefore suspected to decline by ≥30% over three generations.

Distribution and population

Herpsilochmus axillaris is a polytypic species of north-western South America's eastern Andes, each subspecies having an isolated range. It is generally uncommon. Subspecies senex is endemic to the Andes of west Colombia, from Risaralda south as far as Cauca. Subspecies aequatorialis occurs in east Ecuador, where it is present in Podocarpus and Sumaco Galeras National Parks, and north Peru. This taxon is isolated from subspecies puncticeps by río Marañón; the latter ranges from there south to Junín. The nominate subspecies axillaris is endemic to south-east Peru, ranging from Cuzco east as far as Puno.


This is a subcanopy species of humid montane forest, ranging from 500-1,900 m. It forages on arthropods in the crown of subcanopy trees and the tangled growth of the middle storey. Perch-gleaning is the main feeding method, but it is also known to hover-glean (Zimmer and Isler 2003).


The primary threat to this species is accelerating deforestation for human colonisation, logging and agriculture (Zimmer and Isler 2003, Soares-Filho et al. 2006, Bird et al. 2011). It is considered highly sensitive to human disturbance and as such is likely to suffer acutely as a result of forest fragmentation (Zimmer and Isler 2003, A. Lees in litt. 2011).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
This taxon occurs in Podocarpus and Sumaco Galeras National Parks in Ecuador, and the Manu National Park and Biosphere Reserve in Peru (Zimmer et al. 2016). No targeted actions are known.

Conservation Actions Proposed

Expand the protected area network to effectively protect IBAs. Effectively resource and manage existing and new protected areas, utilising emerging opportunities to finance protected area management with the joint aims of reducing carbon emissions and maximizing biodiversity conservation. Conservation on private lands, through expanding market pressures for sound land management and preventing forest clearance on lands unsuitable for agriculture, is also essential (Soares-Filho et al. 2006).


11-12 cm. Smallish, sexually dimorphic antwren. Males are grey above, with a black cap spotted white, a black eyestripe, black wing-coverts with white tips and pale underparts. Female is olive-buff above, with a cinnamon-rufous cap, less marked eyestripe and a more olive-tinged breast. Voice A rattle-like trill of dry notes.


Text account compilers
Butchart, S., Ekstrom, J., Khwaja, N., Symes, A., Sharpe, C J

Lees, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2019) Species factsheet: Herpsilochmus axillaris. Downloaded from on 19/11/2019. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2019) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 19/11/2019.