Archived 2011-2012 topics: Bare-necked Umbrellabird (Cephalopterus glabricollis): uplist to Endangered?

This discussion was first published on Dec 1 2010 as part of the 2010-2011 Red List update.

Initial deadline for comments: 31 January 2012.

Link to BirdLife species factsheet for Bare-necked Umbrellabird

Bare-necked Umbrellabird Cephalopterus glabricollis is currently listed as Vulnerable under criteria A2c; A3c; A4c, on the basis that a population decline is suspected in both the past and future at a rate equivalent to 30-49% over 10 years.

This species’s breeding population in Costa Rican Important Bird Areas (IBAs) was assessed in 2009 and was estimated at 190-330 mature individuals (Sánchez et al. 2009), which is down from the 2007 estimate of 740-1,430 mature individuals (J. Criado et al. in litt. 2007). In contrast, the 2007 estimate for the breeding population in the IBAs of Panama was given as 1,050-4,245 mature individuals, an estimate regarded by some as too high (J. Criado et al. in litt. 2007). The latest estimate for Costa Rican IBAs suggests that the species’s total population numbers fewer than 2,500 mature individuals, which could make the species eligible for uplisting to Endangered under criteria C1 and/or C2.

Criterion C1 stipulates that for Endangered status the population must also be shown to be declining at a rate of at least 20% over five years or two generations. Given that the suspected rate of decline is currently estimated at 30-49% over 10 years, owing to deforestation for conversion to pasture and cultivation, commercial logging and road construction (Powell et al. 1995, Angehr and Jordán 1998, Angehr 2003, G. Angehr in litt. 2007), a decline of 20% over five years seems likely. The difference in the estimates for the breeding populations in Costa Rican IBAs in 2007 and 2009 would imply that the species’s population was previously overestimated, or that it is in rapid decline. Criterion C2 stipulates that in addition to at least an inferred decline of unknown rate, at least 95% of all mature individuals must be in one sub-population; however, the species is thought to have more than one sub-population.

Comments are invited on this potential category change, and information is requested on the species’s likely total population size, estimated population trend and population structure to help in the evaluation of its status. Assessment of the population trend would be aided by data on the species’s generation length.

Angehr, G. R. (2003) Directory of important bird areas in Panama. Balbao, Panama: Panama Audubon Society.

Angehr, G. R. and Jordán, O. (1998) Report on the Panama Important Bird Areas program. Ancon, Panamá: Panama Audubon Society/BirdLife International.

Powell, G. V. N., Bjork, R., Montero, S. and Aleman, U. (1995) Intratropical migration by Ara ambigua: identifying habitat heterogeneity and linkages to protect biodiversity in lowland tropical wet forest of Central America. Progress report submitted to RARE Center for Tropical Conservation, Monteverde, Costa Rica.

Sánchez, J. E., Criado, J., Sánchez, C. and Sandoval, L. (2009) Costa Rica. In Devenish, C., Díaz Fernández, D. F., Clay, R. P., Davidson, I. J. and Yépez Zabala, I. eds. Important Bird Areas Americas – Priority sites for biodiversity conservation. Quito, Ecuador: BirdLife International (BirdLife Conservation Series No. 16).

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5 Responses to Archived 2011-2012 topics: Bare-necked Umbrellabird (Cephalopterus glabricollis): uplist to Endangered?

  1. In the past 10 years, severe deforestation has been taking place within perhaps half of the species’ range in Panama. Deforestation is particularly severe along the approximately 100 km of the cordillera within the Comarca Ngobe-Bugle (formerly eastern Bocas del Toro), in both the breeding areas in the highlands and the non-breeding areas in foothills and lowlands. Deforestation has now reached the continental divide in some areas (personal observation).

    It is difficult to estimate a population size for this species without better information on density in the breeding areas. No information is available from the core of the species probable range in Panama, La Amistad International Park, where the breeding areas are largely inaccessible. However, even here deforestation is affecting potential non-breeding areas.

    Given its apparent narrow habitat requirements and its status as an altitudinal migrant, this species is also very likely to be vulnerable to climate change.

    Based on these considerations, in my opinion uplisting this species to Endangered is warranted.

  2. Population situation in Costa Rica does not seem to have improved since the 190-330 mature individuals (Sánchez et al. 2009) estimated in 2007. This species is known to breed inside at least two protected areas, Reserva Albeto Manuel Brenes Mesen, Reserva Privada Bosque Eterno de los Niños, and presumably at Braulio Carrillo and La Amistad National Parks, but this has not been proven. After the reproductive season is over, this species migrates down the slope towards the Caribbean lowlands. In this area forests have been heavily removed leaving only one biological corridor that connects breeding and none breeding regions along all of its range.
    For the conservation of this species, the presence of riparian forest is very important because this are the only pathways left for the individuals to move along the slope, especially at the lower elevations. Since the past century, extensive banana plantations and nowadays, pineapple plantations have whip out most of the lowland forest and the corridors linking them together. It is expected that this will have serious consequences on bird populations that commit altitudinal movements.
    This is a species only found in mature forests; even so, individuals found in isolated patches are known to have had to travel at least 20 km through cultivated fields. As this gaps grow wider, this birds might not be able to move between them anymore.
    As previously mentioned the biggest threat for this species is habitat reduction at non-reproductive areas and the corridors that link them to the reproductive areas. Because non reproductive areas are not protected by law, and the demand for wood is still an issue, the small patches present are being degraded by logging as well.
    In conclusion because of small population size (C1 and/or C2) and land use trends throughout its range, we consider that this species should be uplisted to Endangered.

  3. Joe Taylor says:

    The following comments were received from Edgardo Arévalo on 14 February 2011:

    I can say that habitat loss should not be a problem for this species at their beading grounds as most of is range is within protected areas. Lowland and foothill habitats (below 800 m) are fragmented and might still be a problem. One thing that is good is that there are many private reserves running ecotourism activities so forest cover is somehow cared by owners.

  4. Joe Taylor says:

    The following comments were received from Johel Chaves on 14 February 2011:

    As for me, I have nothing else to add with regard to population size and/or habitat loss. However, I have some information that can help in the evaluation of its status. As Edgardo points out, the breeding areas of this species in the highlands are well protected in Costa Rica and Panama; the problem is the non-breeding habitat in the foothills and lowlands, which are heavily fragmented. I have heard anecdotes about Bare-necked Umbrellabirds crossing open areas to reach forest fragments in the lowlands of the Caribbean slope of Costa Rica (e.g. EARTH University) during the non-breeding season. This is important because it is believed the species needs continuous forest along elevation gradients to conduct elevational migration (Stiles 1985, Chaves-Campos et all. 2003). I just came across a relatively recent publication ( that reports the presence of Bare-necked Umbrellabirds in the lowlands of Nicaragua, close to the border with Costa Rica, during the non-breeding season. According to the authors of the report, the birds are migrating downslope from breeding populations in Costa Rica because there are no reports of breeding populations of this species in nearby areas in Nicaragua. This implies that these birds actually cross farmland and open areas, including the San Juan river, to reach these forest fragments in Nicaragua because there is no continuous forest between any breeding area in the mountains of Costa Rica and the San Juan River. This report also extends the current known distribution of the species to Nicaragua. The long-term perspectives of persistence of this species could be better than previously thought if they use fragmented landscapes during the non-breeding season.


    Chaves-Campos, J., J. E. Arévalo, and M. Araya. 2003. Altitudinal movements and conservation of the Bare-necked Umbrellabird (Cephalopterus glabricollis) of the Tilarán Mountains, Costa Rica. Bird Conservation International 13:45-58.

    Stiles, F. G. (1985) Conservation of forest birds in Costa Rica: problems and perspectives. Pp. 141–168 in A. W. Diamond and T. E. Lovejoy, eds. Conservation of tropical forest birds. Cambridge, U.K.: International Council for Bird Preservation.

  5. Joe Taylor says:

    Edgardo Arévalo replied again on 14 February 2011:

    Now that Johel mentions the use of forest fragments by C glabricollis I recorded a female in a heavily fragmented landscape near Guápiles and away from Braulio Carrillo National Park.

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