BirdLife species factsheet for Yellow-headed Brush-finch
Yellow-headed Brush-finch (Atlapetes flaviceps) is endemic to Colombia, where it occurs on both slopes of the Central Andes and the Western Andes. It is found between 1,200 and 2,500 m. It inhabits secondary forests and forest borders as well as bushy, open areas, plantations and disturbed habitats (Renjífo et al. 2014, Jaramillo and Sharpe 2020, P. Salaman in litt. 2020). The species is threatened by the loss of habitat. It has been hypothesised that while it mainly occupies secondary vegetation, it possibly still requires the presence of forests within its range (Y. G. Molina-Martínez in Renjífo et al. 2014).
The population has previously been estimated to number 250-999 mature individuals. However, this is now considered to be a large underestimate, as the species appears to be widespread throughout its range, in which it is recorded regularly (eBird 2020, P. Salaman in litt. 2020). Based on density estimates of congeners and the area of available habitat, the population size has been estimated to number up to 13,000 individuals; but to account for uncertainties the population size has been placed in the band 10,000-13,000 individuals (Renjífo et al. 2014). This roughly equates to 6,500-8,500 mature individuals.
Yellow-headed Brush-finch is currently listed as Endangered under Criteria B1ab(i,ii,iii,v); C2a(ii). However, new information regarding the population size and trend and the distribution range suggests 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. Forest loss over ten years (one generation length being estimated at 3.1 years; Bird et al. 2020*) within the range has been estimated at 11.2% (Renjífo et al. 2014). Given that the species does not depend on forest, but readily tolerates degraded and converted habitats, the rate of population decline is likely considerably lower than the rate of forest loss. The only known threat to the species is habitat loss. Therefore, while we can tentatively suspect that the species is undergoing a slow decline, the rate of decline is too low to meet the threshold for Vulnerable. As such, Yellow-headed Brush-finch may be listed as Least Concern under Criterion A.
Criterion B – The newly calculated Extent of Occurrence (EOO) for this species is 32,000 km2. This value does not meet the threshold for Vulnerable (EOO < 20,000 km2). The Area of Occupancy (AOO) has not been quantified according to the guidelines (IUCN Standards and Petitions Committee 2019). Therefore, Yellow-headed Brush-finch may be listed as Least Concern under Criterion B1.
Criterion C – The population size of Yellow-headed Brush-finch has preliminarily been estimated at c. 6,500-8,500 mature individuals. This meets the threshold for listing as threatened under Criterion C. However, to do so a species must meet further conditions.
It is suspected that the species is undergoing a slow population decline due to habitat loss. A suspected decline, however, precludes a listing as threatened under Criterion C. We have no information on the subpopulation structure, and thus the species cannot be assessed against Criterion C2. Nevertheless, applying a very conservative approach, we can suspect that the rate of decline approaches, but does not meet, 10% over ten years. Therefore, Yellow-headed Brush-finch may be listed as Near Threatened, approaching the threshold for listing as threatened under Criterion C1.
Criterion D – The newly estimated population size is too large to approach the threshold for Vulnerable (1,000 mature individuals). Therefore, Yellow-headed Brush-finch 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 Yellow-headed Brush-finch (Atlapetes flaviceps) be listed as Near Threatened, approaching the threshold for listing as threatened under Criterion C1. 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.
eBird. 2020. eBird: An online database of bird distribution and abundance [web application]. eBird, Ithaca, New York. http://www.ebird.org (Accessed 11 February 2020).
IUCN Standards and Petitions Committee. 2019. Guidelines for using the IUCN Red List Categoreis and Criteria. Version 14. http://www.iucnredlist.org/documents/RedListGuidelines.pdf.
Jaramillo, A.; Sharpe, C. J. 2020. Yellow-headed Brush-finch (Atlapetes flaviceps). In: del Hoyo, J.; Elliot, A.; Sargatal, J.; Christie, D. A.; de Juana, E. (eds). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions. Barcelona, Spain. https://www.hbw.com/node/61988 (Accessed 11 February 2010).
Renjífo, L. M.; Gómez, M. F.; Velásquez-Tibatá, J.; Amaya-Villareal, A. M.; Kattan, G. H.; Amaya-Espinel, J. D.; Burbano-Girón, J. 2014. Libro rojo de aves de Colombia, Volumen I: bosques húmedos de los Andes y la costa Pacífica. Editorial Pontificia Universidad Javeriana and Instituto Alexander von Humboldt. Bogotá, Colombia.