Archived 2014 discussion: Chilean Woodstar (Eulidia yarrellii): uplist to Critically Endangered?

This discussion was first published as part of the 2013 Red List update, but remains open for comment to enable reassessment in 2014.

BirdLife species factsheet for Chilean Woodstar

Chilean Woodstar Eulidia yarrellii is only known to breed regularly in the Azapa and Vitor valleys, Arica department, extreme north Chile (Estades 2007). It is currently listed as Endangered under criterion B1ab(i,ii,iii,v) because it has a very small range (estimated Extent of Occurrence [EOO]=2,200 km2) with all viable populations apparently confined to remnant habitat patches in two desert river valleys (Collar et al. 1992). As these valleys are heavily cultivated, the extent, area and quality of suitable habitat (and therefore the population) are likely to be declining.

Surveys since 2003 have failed to find this species in the Lluta valley where it had previously been recorded in small numbers (Estades 2007). Stragglers have been found north to Tacna and possibly Moquegua departments, south Peru, and there is a historical record as far south as north Antofagasta province, but there are no recent records for Peru (Estades 2007). It was described as very common in the first half of the 20th century, with over 100 seen feeding together. In 2003 the Azapa valley held around 75 % of the total population, which was estimated at around 1,500 individuals (Estades 2007), while in 2007 the total population was estimated at around 1,200 individuals (55% in Azapa and 45% in Vitor) (C. Estades in litt. 2007). Recent information suggests that the population of this species has now greatly declined to ~500 individuals (D. Lebbin in litt. 2012). Also, the rate of decline is more rapid than previously thought; population estimates have shown that the Azapa and Vitor populations have reduced by 15.6% annually (81.6%) in 10 years (C. F. Estades in litt. 2013). If there is sufficient evidence to suggest that the global population of this species has declined by ≥80% over the past three generations (13 years), and similar declines are suspected in the future based on a decline in area of occupancy, extent of occurrence, and/or quality of habitat, it would warrant uplisting to Critically Endangered under criteria A2c+3c+4c of the IUCN Red List. Should evidence suggest that the rate of decline is 50-79% over 13 years, and given that its EOO is <5,000 km2, it is found at ≤5 locations and is in continuing decline, this species would remain as Endangered under criteria A2c+3c+4c; B1ab(i,ii,iii,v).

Further information is requested on the population trends, size and distribution of this species. Comments on the proposed uplisting are welcome.


Collar, N. J., Gonzaga, L. P., Krabbe, N., Madroño Nieto, A., Naranjo, L. G., Parker, T. A. and Wege, D. C. (1992) Threatened birds of the Americas: the ICBP/IUCN Red Data Book. International Council for Bird Preservation: Cambridge, U.K.

Estades, C. F., Aguirre, J., Escobar, M. A. H., Tomasevic, J. A., Vukasovic, M. A. and Tala, C. (2007) Conservation status of the Chilean woodstar Eulidia yarrellii. Bird Conservation International 17(2): 163-175.

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6 Responses to Archived 2014 discussion: Chilean Woodstar (Eulidia yarrellii): uplist to Critically Endangered?

  1. Nataly Hidalgo says:

    We have conducted monthly additional searches for the species in all Tacna valleys (south Peru) during 2008-2009, this species was not recorded in any census. Regards.

  2. Andy Symes says:

    Preliminary proposals

    Based on available information, our preliminary proposal for the 2014 Red List is to pend the decision on Chilean Woodstar Eulidia yarrellii and keep this discussion open until early 2015, while leaving the current Red List category unchanged in the 2014 update.

    There is now a period for further comments until the final deadline of 31 March, after which recommended categorisations will be put forward to IUCN.

    The final Red List categories will be published on the BirdLife and IUCN websites in mid-2014, following further checking of information relevant to the assessments by both BirdLife and IUCN.

  3. In addition of the dramatic population rate of decline another reason to catalogue this species as critically endangered is the difficulty to provide resources to quickly recover this species. We tried several methods to complement natural flowers as a way to mitigate the effects of habitat destruction, pollution and competition with other hummingbirds (all possible synergistic causes of this population decline). E. yarrelli resulted to be extremely unflexible in their feeding habits, they were very reluctant to feed from artificial feeders which were monopolized by other species that ended up producing the displacement of E. yarrelli. Thus, it is necessary to plant native and introduced plants that are regularly visited by E. yarrelli which is slower and brings up other problems that makes the species recovery even more difficult. Therefore, it is urgent to catalogue this species as critically endangered.

  4. First a couple of clarifications. The woodstar is found in three valley systems, Azapa, Chaca and Camarones from north to south. Chaca is the name that seems preferred as opposed to Vitor Valley, as that is what the locals use. So this needs correction as Camarones is missing from the analysis above.
    Second, if this bird is not Critically Endangered then I don’t know what is! The decrease since I have been visiting northern Chile has been phenomenal. In the late 80s you could go in gardens in Arica and watch this hummingbird in numbers. Now it is entirely gone from there, and the Lluta Valley were it was then regular. In the 90s the place to go see it was the areas in and around the museum in the Azapa Valley, where it was regular and sometimes common. It is now rare there, perhaps only down at this elevation in winter. The trend in the Azapa is of declines but also range restriction as it is now NOT found in the lower reaches of the valley in the breeding season, where it was once expected and common. At the current rate, it would not be ridiculous to think it could be gone from the Azapa in a decade.
    One has to understand that these valleys are very small and narrow, the Chaca at times is but the width of 4-5 trees, although wider in other parts. All of these valleys are agricultural, and none have any native habitat set aside for wildlife. The total amount of area it lives in (the places that have some greenery versus absolute desert) is exceedingly small. It seems to me that almost all of its range is in private lands, perhaps the answer is to buy some of this land and create a pesticide free, native plant reserve for the hummingbird? Perhaps one in each valley it is found in? At this point there has been a lot of research on the bird, but no action that seems to have slowed the decline. It is a critical juncture now, we likely have one or at the most two decades left with this unique and gorgeous little bird. This is by far the most noticeable decline I have seen of a rare species in my life, it would seem to me that this may be one of the most threatened birds in the entire Southern Cone of South America. If this is not a Critically Endagered species, I really do not know what is.

  5. Andy Symes says:

    Recommended categorisation to be put forward to IUCN

    Following further review, there has been a change to our preliminary proposal for the 2014 Red List status of this species, and the recommended classification to be put forward to IUCN is to treat Chilean Woodstar as Critically Endangered under criterion A2ac+3c+4ac.

    The final categorisation will be published later in 2014, following further checking of information relevant to the assessment by BirdLife and IUCN.

  6. Daniel Lebbin says:

    Thank you Alvaro Jaramillo for your comment on this proposal I and Christian Estades sent to BirdLife !

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