Masked Saltator (Saltator cinctus): revise global status?

BirdLife species factsheet for Masked Saltator

Masked Saltator (Saltator cinctus) occurs in a disjunct range on the slopes of the Andes in central Colombia, eastern Ecuador and northern Peru. It inhabits the canopy of montane and elfin forest at 1,700-3,100 m elevation (Ridgely and Tudor 1989, Parker et al. 1996), preferring stands of Chusquea bamboo and Podocarpus oleifolius (Fjeldså and Krabbe 1990, Renjifo 1991, Tobias and Williams 1996). The principal threat to the species is habitat loss through logging, agricultural expansion and mining (Dinerstein et al. 1995). 

Masked Saltator is rare and patchily distributed (Stotz et al. 1996). In Colombia, the species was found to occur at an average density of 6 individuals/km2, equating to 4 mature individuals/km2, but it can reach considerably higher densities in mature stands of Podocarpus (Renjifo et al. 2014). Assuming that throughout its range the species occurs at a density of 4 mature individuals/km2, and further assuming that about 10% of the mapped range are occupied (i.e. 10% of  a total range of c. 75,000 km2), the global population would number at least 30,000 mature individuals.

Masked Saltator is currently listed as Near Threatened, approaching the threshold for listing as threatened under Criterion A2c+3c+4c. However, new information regarding trends in habitat availability suggests that the species may warrant a change in Red List status. Therefore, it will be re-assessed against all criteria:

Criterion A – The population trend has not been estimated directly. Forest loss within the range has been negligible over the last ten years (<1%; Tracewski et al. 2016, Global Forest Watch 2020; one generation length being 3.3 years; Bird et al. 2020*). However, given the species’s potentially strong association with the selectively logged Podocarpus (Renjifo 1991), it is conceivable that habitat degradation is proceeding at a more rapid pace. Nevertheless, it is unlikely that the population decline exceeds 10% over three generations, thus not approaching the threshold for listing as threatened under Criterion A (see also Renjifo et al. 2014, Freile et al. 2018). As such, Masked Saltator is considered Least Concern under this criterion.

Criterion B – The newly calculated Extent of Occurrence (EOO) for this species is 750,000 km2. This is too large to warrant listing as threatened under Criterion B1, and Masked Saltator qualifies for Least Concern under this criterion. The Area of Occupancy (AOO) has not been quantified according to IUCN guidelines (IUCN Standards and Petitions Committee 2019), and so the species cannot be assessed against Criterion B2.

Criterion C – The population of Masked Saltator is preliminarily estimated at 30,000 mature individuals. This is too large to warrant listing as threatened under Criterion C, and the species is therefore considered Least Concern under this criterion.

Criterion D – The population size and range are too large to approach the threshold for Vulnerable. Therefore, Masked Saltator may be listed as Least Concern under Criterion D.

Criterion E – To the best of our knowledge no quantitative analysis of extinction risk has been conducted for this species. Therefore, it cannot be assessed against this criterion.

Therefore, it is suggested that Masked Saltator (Saltator cinctus) be listed as Least Concern. We welcome any comments on the proposed listing.

Please note that this topic is not designed to be a general discussion about the ecology of the species, rather a discussion of its Red List status. Therefore, please make sure your comments are relevant to the discussion outlined in the topic. By submitting a comment, you confirm that you agree to the Comment Policy.

*Bird generation lengths are estimated using the methodology of Bird et al. (2020), as applied to parameter values updated for use in each IUCN Red List for birds reassessment cycle. Values used for the current assessment are available on request. We encourage people to contact us with additional or improved values for the following parameters; adult survival (true survival accounting for dispersal derived from an apparently stable population); mean age at first breeding; and maximum longevity (i.e. the biological maximum, hence values from captive individuals are acceptable).

An information booklet on the Red List Categories and Criteria can be downloaded here and the Red List Criteria Summary Sheet can be downloaded here. Detailed guidance on IUCN Red List terms and definitions and the application of the Red List Categories and Criteria can be downloaded here.


Bird, J. P.; Martin, R.; Akçakaya, H. R.; Gilroy, J.; Burfield, I. J.; Garnett, S.; Symes, A.; Taylor, J.; Šekercioğlu, Ç.; Butchart, S. H. M. (2020). Generation lengths of the world’s birds and their implications for extinction risk. Conservation Biology online first view.

Dinerstein, E.; Olson, D. M.; Graham, D. J.; Webster, A. L.; Primm, S. A.; Bookbinder, M. P.; Ledec, G. 1995. A conservation assesssment of the terrestrial ecoregions of Latin America and the Caribbean. World Bank, Washington DC, USA.

Fjeldså, J.; Krabbe, N. 1990. Birds of the high Andes. Apollo Books, Copenhagen, Denmark.

Freile, J. F.; Santander, T.; Carracso, L.; Cisneros-Heredia, D. F.; Guevara, E. A.; Sánchez-Nivicela, M.; Tinoco, B. A. 2018. Lista roja de las aves del Ecuador continental. Ministerio del Ambiente, Aves y Conservación, Comité Ecuatoriana de Registros Ornitológicos, Universidad del Azuay, Red Aves Ecuador, Universidad San Francisco de Quito, Quito, Ecuador.

Global Forest Watch. 2020. Interactive Forest Change Mapping Tool. (Accessed 11 February 2020).

IUCN Standards and Petitions Committee. 2019. Guidelines for using the IUCN Red List Categoreis and Criteria. Version 14.

Stotz, D. F.; Fitzpatrick, J. W.; Parker, T. A.; Moskovits, D. K. Neotropical bird ecology and conservation. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, USA.

Renjifo, L. M. 1991. Discovery of the Masked Saltator in Colombia, with notes on its ecology and behaviour. Wilson Bulletin 103: 685-690.

Renjifo, L. M.; Gomez, M. F.; Velasquez-Tibata, J.; Amaya-Villarreal, A. M.; Kattan, G. H.; Amaya-Espinel, J. D.; Burbano-Giron, J. 2014. Libro rojo de aves de Colombia, Volumen I: bosques humedos de los Andes y la costa Pacifica. Editorial Pontificia Universidad Javeriana e Instituto Alexander von Humboldt, Bogota, Colombia.

Ridgely, R. S.; Tudor, G. 1989. The birds of South America. University of Texas Press, Austin, Texas, USA.

Tobias, J. A.; Williams, R. S. R. 1996. Notes on the behaviour of the Masked Saltator in southern Ecuador. The Auk 113: 942-944.

Tracewski, Ł.; Butchart, S. H. M.; Di Marco, M.; Ficetola, G. F.; Rondinini, C.; Symes, A.; Wheatley, H.; Beresford, A. E.; Buchanan, G. M. 2016. Toward quantification of the impact of 21st-century deforestation on the extinction risk of terrestrial vertebrates. Conservation Biology 30: 1070-1079.

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3 Responses to Masked Saltator (Saltator cinctus): revise global status?

  1. Red List Team (BirdLife International) says:

    Global Forest Change data on tree cover loss up to 2019 have now been released and made available via Global Forest Watch. Based on these data, over ten years approximately 1.6% of tree cover with 75% canopy cover was lost from within the species’s range (Global Forest Watch 2020). This does not affect the above assessment under Criterion A.

  2. Red List Team (BirdLife International) says:

    The window for consultation is now closed. We will analyse and interpret the new information and post a preliminary decision on this species’s Red List status on this page in early July.

    Thank you,
    BirdLife Red List Team

  3. Red List Team (BirdLife International) says:

    Preliminary proposal

    Based on available information, our preliminary proposal for the 2020 Red List would be to adopt the proposed classification outlined in the initial forum discussion.

    There is now a period for further comments until the final deadline in mid-July, after which the recommended categorisations will be put forward to IUCN.

    Please note that we will then only post final recommended categorisations on forum discussions where these differ from those in the initial proposal.

    The final 2020 Red List categories will be published on the BirdLife and IUCN websites in December 2020/January 2021, following further checking of information relevant to the assessments by both BirdLife and IUCN.

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