Santa Marta Sabrewing (Campylopterus phainopeplus): revise global status?

BirdLife species factsheet for Santa Marta Sabrewing

Santa Marta Sabrewing (Campylopterus phainopeplus) is endemic to the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta in northern Colombia. During the dry season, it inhabits humid forests, forest borders and shaded coffee plantations at 1,200-1,800 m, while during the wet season it moves to open páramo at up to 4,800 m (Hilty and Brown 1986, Fjeldså and Krabbe 1990, Renjifo et al. 2016). Known threats to the species include the loss and fragmentation of its habitat due to human encroachment and agricultural expansion, and pollution by herbicide spraying (Renjífo et al. 2016).

Santa Marta Sabrewing is not well known and rarely observed. Since the species was first collected in 1946, it has only been recorded with certainty once in 2010 (Butler 2010, P. Salaman in litt. 2020). A tape-recording from 2006 proved erroneous, and other sightings have been attributed to misidentification of White-vented Plumeleteer (Chalybura buffonii) (P. Salaman in litt. 2020).

Santa Marta Sabrewing is currently listed as Endangered under Criterion B1ab(i,ii,iii,v) (BirdLife International 2020). New information regarding the population size suggest that the species may warrant a change in Red List status. Therefore, it will be re-assessed against all Red List criteria.

Criterion A – The population trend has not been estimated directly. Given that the species has become very difficult to observe over the last decades, with only one record confirmed since 1946, we can infer a continuing decline in population size. However, there is no information on the rate of decline over ten years (one generation length being 2.4 years; Bird et al. 2020*), and thus Santa Marta Sabrewing cannot be assessed against Criterion A.

Criterion B – Santa Marta Sabrewing has a small range, with an Extent of Occurrence (EOO) of 2,900 km2. The Area of Occupancy (AOO) has not been quantified. Given that the species has only been observed at one site, the number of locations** of occurrence is likely ≤ 5. The species is inferred to undergo a continuing decline in EOO, AOO, quality/extent of habitat and in population size. Therefore, it may be listed as Endangered under Criterion B1ab(i,ii,iii,v).

Criterion C – The population size of Santa Marta Sabrewing has not been estimated. However, the paucity of confirmed records since 1946 suggest that the species is very rare and likely undergoing a continuing decline. Pending new information regarding the population size, we can tentatively assume that the population numbers < 50 mature individuals, which all belong to the same subpopulation. As such, Santa Marta Sabrewing may qualify for listing as Critically Endangered under Criterion C2a(i,ii).

Criterion D – The population size of Santa Marta Sabrewing is feared to be very small. Unless new information becomes available, the population is assumed to number < 50 mature individuals. Therefore, it may be listed as Critically Endangered 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 Santa Marta Sabrewing (Campylopterus phainopeplus) be listed as Critically Endangered under Criteria C2a(i,ii); D. We welcome any comments on the proposed listing and specifically request up-to-date information regarding the population size.

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).

**The term ‘location’ refers to a distinct area in which a single threatening event can rapidly affect all individuals of the taxon present, with the size of the location depending on the area covered by the threatening event. Where a taxon is affected by more than one threatening event, location should be defined by considering the most serious plausible threat (IUCN 2001, 2012).

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.

References

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: Campylopterus phainopeplus. http://www.birdlife.org (Accessed 5 February 2020).

Butler, R. 2010. First-ever photo of rare and spectacular hummingbird from Colombia. Mongabay. https://news.mongabay.com/2010/03/first-ever-photo-of-rare-and-spectacular-hummingbird-from-colombia/ (Accessed 6 February 2020).

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

Hilty, S. L.; Brown, W. L. 1986. A guide to the birds of Colombia. Princeton University Press, Princeton, U.S.A.

IUCN. 2001. IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria: Version 3.1. IUCN Species Survival Commission. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, U.K.

IUCN. 2012. IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria: Version 3.1. Second edition. IUCN Species Survival Commission. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, U.K. www.iucnredlist.org/technical-documents/categories-and-criteria.

Renjifo, L. M.; Amaya-Villareal, A. M.; Burbano-Girón, J.; Velásquez-Tibatá, J. 2016. Libro Rojo de Aves de Colombia, Vol. II: Ecosistemas abiertos, secos, insulares, acuáticos continentales, marinos, tierras altas del Darién y Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta y bosques húmedos del centro, norte y oriente del país. Editorial Pontificia Universidad Javeriana e Instituto Alexander von Humboldt. Bogotá, Colombia.

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6 Responses to Santa Marta Sabrewing (Campylopterus phainopeplus): revise global status?

  1. I agree wit Santa Marta Sabrewing may qualify for listing as Critically Endangered under Criterion C2a(i,ii).

    During 10 years that I visited the Santa Marta Mountains only I seen to know for sure the ID. Two males.

    species may be has disappeared from its entire range, and there have been no sightings since 2009 (that I seen one) despite many searches in appropriate montane habitats (there have been no new sightings in 2020). The population status in Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta shows evidence of a decline

  2. Copiado de / copied from: Alex Cortés, Juan Carlos Luna, Andrea Borrero, y Juan Lazaro Toro (2020) Evaluación de especies de aves amenazadas en Colombia / Evaluation of Threatened Birds Species in Colombia. Conservación Colombiana 27: 3-31.

    “ProAves teme que Santa Marta Sabrewing se haya extinguido y, en el mejor de los casos, es sin duda la especie de ave más rara y amenazada de Colombia.

    A principios del siglo XX, la especie fue colectada y, reportada “bastante común” de un increíblemente amplio rango de elevación de 1.200 a 4.800 m (desde los trópicos hasta la línea de nieve) en la Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. Sin embargo, la especie solo se ha confirmado una vez desde 1946, cuando un ave fue capturada en redes de niebla, fotografiada y liberada en la Reserva ProAves de El Dorado.

    La Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta ha recibido una atención importante en los últimos años por parte de los observadores de aves, particularmente la Reserva de Aves El Dorado ProAves de 1,427 has., ha sido el sitio de observación de aves número 1 en Colombia con >3,940 listas de verificación desde 1976 en adelante. Desde 2003, ProAves ha revisado varios avistamientos de Santa Marta Sabrewing por observadores de aves y también una grabación de canto publicada en 2006. Recientemente se confirmó que la grabación del 2006 de esta especie supuestamente fue un error. La revisión de fotos de otros avistamientos muestra que todos son Chalybura buffonii que es similar al Sabrewing con la distintiva cola azul y un perfil similar. Creemos que todas las observaciones no confirmadas también se relacionan con la identificación errónea de Chalybura buffonii.

    Un solo individuo capturado y fotografiado en 2010 en la el filo de la montaña debajo del alojamiento KoguiHab (600 m SE del alojamiento principal) en la Reserva El Dorado ProAves sigue siendo la única confirmación de la especie desde la Segunda Guerra Mundial ( Mongabay 2010, https://ebird.org/checklist/S68802229). El sitio estaba ubicada entre los dos bosques vírgenes más importantes de la reserva.

    A pesar de la considerable atención a las aves en la Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta y los esfuerzos de investigación, ProAves se ha alarmado de que la especie no se pueda redescubrir o que no se le preste mayor atención. Es lamentable que una evaluación nacional reciente de la especie haya considerado erróneamente la especie como Vulnerable (Renjifo 2016), con base a los rangos históricos EOO y AOO. Este fue un grave descuido con solo un registro en 74 años: un período de transformación significativa del hábitat en la Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, especialmente en su rango histórico (laderas del sur).

    Hace cien años, Todd y Carriker (1922) explicaron que el enorme rango altitudinal de la especie (uno de los colibríes más grandes) se debió a la migración altitudinal estacional. Proponemos que este rango de elevación inusualmente grande es la razón por la cual la especie está al borde de la extinción. La deforestación y la alternancia del hábitat en las elevaciones más altas (páramo y vegetación Altoandinas devastadas, por ejemplo, Oxypogon cyanolaemus [CR]) y elevaciones más bajas ahora en gran parte plantaciones de café y cacao. Varias estaciones secas intensas y prolongadas también han provocado muchos incendios importantes en la Sierra Nevada. Por ejemplo, un incendio accidentalmente establecido por los mochileros que viajan a través de la Reserva El Dorado de ProAves en el 2016 destruyó más de 50 has del bosque sensible y altamente restringida montano alto en la reserva y parte de la colonia de cría del Periquito de Santa Marta Los riesgos de incendio aumentaron bruscamente a principios de 2020 con una oleada cada vez mayor de mochileros que acampaban ilegalmente en la reserva (utilizando el acceso a la vía pública), pero cesaron cuando la cuarentena de coronavirus detuvo a los visitantes.
    Por lo tanto, hemos revisado completamente la especie aquí contra todos los criterios de la Lista Roja. La especie no se puede evaluar con respecto a los Criterios A, B, pero se considera Crítica bajo los Criterios C y D:

    Criterio C – El tamaño de la población de Campylopterus phainopeplu) es < 50 individuos maduros y Califica para el listado IES como Critica en el Criterio C2a (i, ii).

    Criterio D: el tamaño de la población de Campylopterus phainopeplu), es <50 individuos maduros. Por lo tanto, se puede enumerar como Critica en el Criterio D.

    Por lo tanto, ProAves recomienda C. phainopeplus, debe ser catalogado como Crítico en el Criterio C2a ( i, ii ) + D.

    Mongabay 2010: https://news.mongabay.com/2010/03/first-ever-photo-of-rare-and-spectacular-hummingbird-from-colombia&quot;

  3. Copiado de / copied from: Alex Cortés, Juan Carlos Luna, Andrea Borrero, y Juan Lazaro Toro (2020) Evaluación de especies de aves amenazadas en Colombia / Evaluation of Threatened Birds Species in Colombia. Conservación Colombiana 27: 3-31.

    “ProAves fears that the Santa Marta Sabrewing may have gone extinct and at best is without doubt the rarest and most threatened bird species in Colombia.

    At the turn of the 20th century the species was collected and reportedly “fairly common” from an incredibly broad elevational range from 1,200 to 4,800 m (from the tropics to the snowline) on the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. However, the species has only been confirmed once since 1946 when a bird was mist-netted, photographed and released in the El Dorado ProAves Reserve.

    The Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta has received significant attention in recent years from birders, particularly the 1,427 ha El Dorado ProAves Reserve has been the #1 birding site in Colombia with >3,940 checklist submissions since 1976 onwards. Since 2003, ProAves has reviewed a number of Santa Marta Sabrewing sightings by birders and also a 2006 song recording published. It was recently confirmed that the 2006 tape-recording reportedly of this species was an error. Reviewing photos of other sightings show they all White-vented Plumeleteer Chalybura buffonii that is similar to the Sabrewing with the distinctive blue tail and similar profile. We believe all unconfirmed observations also relate to the misidentification of Chalybura buffonii.

    A single male captured and photographer in 2010 on the ridge below the KoguiHab accommodation (600 m SE of the main lodge) at El Dorado ProAves Reserve remains the sole confirmation for the species since the second world war (Mongabay 2010, https://ebird.org/checklist/S68802229). The ridge was located between the two most important pristine montane forests in the reserve.

    Despite considerable attention to the birds in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta and research efforts, ProAves has been alarmed that the species can not be rediscovered or greater attention placed on the species. It is regrettable that a recent national evaluation of the species erroneously considered the species as Vulnerable (Renjifo 2016) based on historical EOO and AOO ranges. This was a grave oversight with just one record in 74 years -a period of significant habitat transformation across the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, especially in its historical range (southern slopes).

    One hundred years ago, Todd & Carriker (1922) elaborated that the species huge altitudinal range (one of the largest of any hummingbird) was due to seasonal altitudinal migration. We propose that this unusually large elevational range is the reason the species is on the verge of extinction. Deforestation and habitat alternation in both highest elevations (paramo and timberline vegetation devastated, e.g. Blue-bearded Helmetcrest [CR]) and lower elevations now largely coffee and cacao plantations. Several intense and prolonged dry seasons have also resulted in many major fires across the Sierra Nevada. For example, a fire accidently set by backpackers traveling through the El Dorado ProAves Reserve in 2016 destroyed over 50 has of the sensitive and highly restricted upper montane forest in the reserve and part of the Santa Marta Parakeet breeding colony. The fire risks sharply increased in early 2020 with a rapidly growing wave of backpackers illegally camping in the reserve (using public road access) but ceased when the coronavirus quarantine stopped visitors.

    Therefore, we have fully reviewed the species here against all Red List criteria. The species cannot be assessed against Criterion A, B, but consider Critically Endangered under Criterion C and D:

    Criterion C – The population size of Santa Marta Sabrewing is <50 mature individuals and qualifies for listing as Critically Endangered under Criterion C2a(i,ii).

    Criterion D – The population size of Santa Marta Sabrewing is < 50 mature individuals. Therefore, it may be listed as Critically Endangered under Criterion D.

    Therefore, ProAves recommends C. phainopeplus be listed as Critically Endangered under Criterion C2a(i,ii)+D.

    Mongabay 2010: https://news.mongabay.com/2010/03/first-ever-photo-of-rare-and-spectacular-hummingbird-from-colombia&quot;

  4. 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

  5. Red List Team (BirdLife International) says:

    Preliminary proposal

    Many thanks for the detailed contributions to the reassessment of the Santa Marta Sabrewing. All available information suggests that this species has been relatively common within its small range at the beginning of the 20th century, but has declined drastically since then with the only confirmed records from 1946 and 2010. Despite a lack of exact population estimates, it is assumed that the remaining population is tiny.

    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 and list Santa Marta Sabrewing as Critically Endangered under Criteria C2a(i,ii); D.

    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.

  6. Sara Lara says:

    Thanking you for highlighting the serious situation of Campylopterus phainopeplus.

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