Orange-fronted Barbet (Capito squamatus): revise global status?

BirdLife species factsheet for Orange-fronted Barbet

Orange-fronted Barbet (Capito squamatus) occurs in the lowlands and western slopes of the Andes from southwestern Colombia to western Ecuador. It inhabits evergreen forest at elevations up to 800m, but locally ranges up to 1,500 m (del Hoyo et al. 2002). The species appears to readily accept edge habitat, young secondary growth, plantations and non-forest habitat (del Hoyo et al. 2002, Short and Horne 2020a).

The population size has not been quantified directly. Based on an observed density of a congener (Capito quinticolor: 3-5 pairs/km2 in disturbed forest [Short and Horne 2020b]), an area of mapped range of c. 63,000 km2, and assuming that around 10% of the range are occupied, Orange-fronted Barbet may number c. 37,000-63,000 mature individuals.

The only threat known to Orange-fronted Barbet is habitat loss. Forests within the range have been cleared for timber extraction, agriculture including oil palm plantation, cattle grazing and road building (Salaman 1994, Dinerstein et al. 1995, Stattersfield et al. 1998, Sharpe 1999). In northwestern Ecuador, around 60% of the original forest cover has already been lost (Finer and Mamani 2019).

Orange-fronted Barbet is currently listed as Near Threatened, approaching the threshold for listing as threatened under Criterion A2c+3c+4c (BirdLife International 2020). 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. The only threat known to Orange-fronted Barbet is habitat loss; however, deforestation within the range has been low over the past ten years (c. 4%; Tracewski et al. 2016, Global Forest Watch 2020; one generation length being 3.0 years; Bird et al. 2020*). The species is not confined to forest, but also occupies a variety of secondary and open habitats (del Hoyo et al. 2002, Short and Horne 2020a); therefore, forest loss is unlikely to drive significant population declines. Precautionarily, the species can be suspected to undergo a slow decline, which is unlikely to exceed 10% over ten years. Orange-fronted Barbet is therefore assessed as Least Concern under Criterion A.

Criterion B – The Extent of Occurrence (EOO) for this species is 85,900 km2. This is too large to warrant listing as threatened under Criterion B1, and Orange-fronted Barbet qualifies as 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 Orange-fronted Barbet is preliminarily estimated to number 37,000-63,000 mature individuals. This is too large to meet the threshold for listing as threatened under Criterion C and the species is considered Least Concern under this criterion.

Criterion D – The population size and range are too large to approach the threshold for listing as threatened under Criterion D. Therefore, Orange-fronted Barbet qualifies as Least Concern under this criterion.

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 Orange-fronted Barbet (Capito squamatus) 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.

BirdLife International. 2020. Species factsheet: Capito squamatus. (Accessed 31 March 2020).

del Hoyo, J.; Elliott, A.; Sargatal, J. 2002. Handbook of the Birds of the World, vol. 7: Jacamars to Woodpeckers. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.

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.

Finer, M.; Mamani, N. (2019) Saving the Ecuadorian Chocó. MAAP: 102.

Global Forest Watch. 2020. Interactive Forest Change Mapping Tool. (Accessed 31 March 2020).

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

Salaman, P. G. W. 1994. Surveys and conservation of biodiversity in the Chocó, south-west Colombia. BirdLife International, Cambridge, U.K.

Sharpe, C. J. 1999. A rapid biodiversity assessment of the San Lorenzo – Ventanas area, Esmeraldas, north-west Ecuador, 27 November – 14 December 1998. Fauna and Flora International.

Short, L. L.; Horne, J. F. M. 2020a. Orange-fronted Barbet (Capito squamatus), version 1.0. In: del Hoyo, J.; Elliott, A.; Sargatal, J.; Christie, D. A.; de Juana, E. (eds.). Birds of the World. Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. (Accessed 31 March 2020).

Short, L. L.; Horne, J. F. M. 2020b. Five-colored Barbet (Capito quinticolor), version 1.0. In: del Hoyo, J.; Elliott, A.; Sargatal, J.; Christie, D. A.; de Juana, E. (eds.). Birds of the World. Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. (Accessed 31 March 2020).

Stattersfield, A. J.; Crosby, M. J.; Long, A. J.; Wege, D. C. 1998. Endemic bird areas of the world: priorities for bird conservation. BirdLife International, Cambridge, U.K.

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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5 Responses to Orange-fronted Barbet (Capito squamatus): 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 3.9% 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. Juan Freile says:

    Your calculation of EEO is largely exaggerated; there is no way the EOO of this species is two times larger than that of Capito quinticolor, which is probably a bit larger than that of C. squamatus, or nearly four times larger than that of Amazona lilacina, which actually has a larger EOO.
    Yes, the species is tolerant to certain level of forest disturbance, but relies on some forest cover. It inhabits mature and secondary forest, forest borders, adjacent agricultural fields with standing trees, adjacent gardens with tree cover. It does not range into vast cultivated land, which dominates large portions of its Ecuador range (i.e., large portions of its global range). Banana, oil palm, sugar cane, palm hart, and other large monocultures are unsuitable for the species –or very suboptimal habitat, at the best.
    Forest loss estimates by Tracewski are outdated and misleading; actual rates of forest loss in western Ecuador are larger (see your own Finer & Mamani reference or Fagua et al. 2019. Ecosphere, which incidentally shows that the majority of suitable habitat across this species range is gone).
    The species is ranked as NT in Ecuador because we considered that its tolerance to habitat modification reduces rates of population decline. However, the species is classified as VU in Colombia owing to a more limited distribution and similar rates of habitat loss. It is misleading to change its global status to LC when it is classified as NT and VU in both the countries it inhabits.

    • Red List Team (BirdLife International) says:

      Thank you very much for your comment. As indicated in the topic text, the generation length of the species has been re-estimated (please see Bird et al. 2020); hence there may be discrepancies in the rate of decline over three generations between older sources and the recent reassessment. Further, please note that the EOO of a species is always calculated as a continuous Minimum Convex Polygon. The information provided in Finer and Mamani (2019) do not allow to derive an estimate of forest loss over three generations within the species’s range and can therefore not be used for the assessment against Criterion A.

  3. Red List Team (BirdLife International) says:

    Many thanks to everyone who has contributed to this discussion. We greatly appreciate the time and effort invested by so many people in commenting. 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 once again,
    BirdLife Red List Team

  4. Red List Team (BirdLife International) says:

    Preliminary proposal

    In view of the species’s tolerance of converted habitats, a listing as Near Threatened is considered to be overly precautionary. 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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