Archived 2012-2013 topics: Pale-billed Antpitta (Grallaria carrikeri): uplist to Near Threatened?

This discussion was first published as part of the 2012 Red List update, but remains open for comment to enable reassessment in 2013. BirdLife species factsheet for Pale-billed Antpitta Pale-billed Antpitta Grallaria carrikeri is endemic to the eastern slope of the central Andes in northern Peru, where it is found in montane forest (Ridgely and Tudor 1989). It is currently listed as being of Least Concern, as it was not thought to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under any of the IUCN criteria. Although this species has a restricted range, it was not believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence [EOO] of less than 20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appeared to be stable, and hence the species was not thought to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (at least a 30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size has not been quantified, but was not believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (fewer than 10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be at least 10% over ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). A recent improvement of the species’s range map has resulted in a revised EOO estimate of c.7,200 km2. This meets the range size threshold for Vulnerable under criterion B1. However, there is uncertainty over the severity of habitat fragmentation in its range (the proportion of habitat in patches too small to support viable populations and separated by distances several times larger than the species’s average long-term dispersal distance) and the number of locations it is known from. Deforestation has been widespread in the northern central Andes of Peru, although most of it has been concentrated below the species’s elevation range (Garcia-Moreno et al. 1997). Forest clearance in the region largely takes place through timber extraction, clearance for agriculture, including the cultivation of cash-crops, and to secure land ownership (Barnes et al. 1995, Davies et al. 1997, J. Hornbuckle in litt. 1998, Kessler and Herzog 1998). Forest clearance has been particularly rapid on the Cordillera de Colán since the late 1970s (Barnes et al. 1995, Kessler and Herzog 1998), where local people have estimated that all remaining forest could be lost in the next decade. Some areas of cloudforest in its range may be impacted by the widespread practice of burning páramo to maintain pastureland (e.g. Kessler and Herzog 1998). The species’s population size has apparently not been quantified; however, given its small range, it might be expected to have a small population and may qualify for a higher category under criterion C2, although information on its subpopulation structure would also be required for a listing higher than Near Threatened. It is suggested that this species qualifies for uplisting at least to Near Threatened under criterion B1a+b(ii,iii) on the basis that it has a small range, in which there are on-going declines in the Area of Occupancy and area, extent and/or quality of habitat owing to continued deforestation. Comments are invited on this suggested category change, as well as on the potential for the species to qualify as Vulnerable under B1. Further information is also requested, including the number of locations from which the species is known, the percentage of habitat that exists in isolated patches too small to support viable populations, and the likely population size, number of subpopulations and proportion of the total population that forms the largest subpopulation. References: Barnes, R., Butchart, S., Clay, R., Davies, C. and Seddon, N. (1995) The conservation status of the Cordillera de Colán, northern Peru. Cotinga 3: 6-7. Davies, C. W. N., Barnes, R., Butchart, S. H. M., Fernandez, M. and Seddon, N. (1997) The conservation status of birds on the Cordillera de Colán, Peru. Bird Conserv. Int. 7: 181- 195. García-Moreno, M. J., Tibosch, J. H. and Ballón, G. (1997) Estado de conservación de la avifauna de la Cordillera Colán, Departamento de Amazonas, Perú. Informe de Campo. Kessler, M. and Herzog, S. K. (1998) Conservation status in Bolivia of timberline habitats, elfin forest and their birds. Cotinga 10: 50-54. Ridgely, R. S. and Tudor, G. (1989) The birds of South America. Austin, Texas: University of Texas Press.

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7 Responses to Archived 2012-2013 topics: Pale-billed Antpitta (Grallaria carrikeri): uplist to Near Threatened?

  1. This species should probably be uplisted to Near Threatened as its habitat is being rapidly cleared in northern Peru, even at its high elevations, for instance in the upper Rio Chido near Pomacochas. The community of San Lucas de Pomacochas is interested in working with ECOAN in the upper Rio Chido to create a Private Conservation Area, but this has not yet occurred. Pale-billed Antpitta may also occur in the upper portions of ECOAN’s Abra Patricia-Alto Nieva Private Conservation Area as well, but we don’t yet know how many birds may be protected within this reserve.

    (EDIT by A. Symes 29/8/12 to correct a reference to Abra Malaga to the correct location of Abra Patricia)

    • Ben Winger says:

      I do not disagree with the uplisting, however it is worth noting that this species is probably more abundant in the Cordillera Central than it is in the Cordillera Colan sites that Dan mentions above, and that more habitat persists throughout this part of its range. In 2011 I found Grallaria carrikeri to be fairly common at 2600-2900 m on the humid east slope along the trail between Leimebamba and Los Chilchos. I heard it as high as 3100 m, near tree line, along this trail. On the Los Chilchos trail, this species was found on steep slopes and ridges with lots of Chusquea bamboo. I also encountered this species in 2011 at Laguna de los Condores at 2600 m. The elevations where Grallaria carrikeri is found on the east slope of the Cordillera Central are impacted primarily by deforestation and disturbance from cattle ranching, as very few population centers and farms are found this high. Conservation efforts on the east slope between the latitude of the Leimebamba-Los Chilchos trail south to Rio Abiseo National Park would help protect the portion of this species’ range where it is probably most abundant.

  2. Ottavio Janni says:

    FWIW, in 2008 I found this species at about 2600m above the community of Beirut, Corosha District, Amazonas, where the NGO Neotropical Primate Conservations was working with the local community to establish a community reserve. The amount of habitat there seemed rather extensive and undisturbed. It is only about 25km in a straight line from the ECOAN Abra Patricia-Alto Nieve reserve, which certainly suggests it occurs there, as well

  3. As an update, American Bird Conservancy and ECOAN are now working with the communities of Pomacochas, Chido and San Lorenzo to create a potential protected area in the upper Rio Chido that will protect remnant cloud forests inhabited by Pale-billed Antpitta.

  4. This year I found it at two localities in the higher parts of Gocta waterfalls, in Amazonas (2800 – 3050), in the cordillera central, and at two localities at Cordillera de Colan, also Amazonas at (2700 – 3000) during CORBIDI’s ornithological surveys. In Colan there is a large area of undisturbed forest containing the species. Near Gocta, the habitat for the species is being affected by clearing for cattle ranching, but is still around in patches of forests close to those deforested areas. I agree with uplisting it to NT, since habitat loss outside protected areas is growing fast. By the way, the Los Chilchos Private Conservation Area has been recently created over 46000 hectares (

  5. Daniel Lane says:

    Just as an aside, statements like the following: “This species should probably be uplisted to Near Threatened as its habitat is being rapidly cleared in northern Peru, even at its high elevations, for instance in the upper Rio Chido near Pomacochas” have always made me nervous about how conservation practices are done. The Rio Chido area is immediately beside the largest highway in northern Peru, and is by far the most easily-accessible site at which one can encounter Pale-billed Antpitta (both for birders and for locals who need leña). However, the clearing here should not be used as the “norm” to judge habitat condition throughout the species’ (or any species’) distribution! Other proposals for uplisting South American species (Long-whiskered Owlet and Eyeringed Thistletail from several years ago come to mind) have used similar logic, which strikes me as very poorly-informed. In this age of GoogleEarth, where habitat quality can be judged (in a very basic manner, at least) from one’s desk, I think we must stop with the knee-jerk mentality that “if the one spot everyone goes to to see a bird is in trouble, then the species must be equally endangered everywhere”! Surveys elsewhere in the species’ range (such as the various sites suggested by many of the above contributors) would be necessary to judge the true change in conservation status. I was with a group from New Mexico on Cerro Huicsacunga (near Camporedondo), Amazonas dept., in 2008, where the species was locally common, and there was little indication of any immediate threat to the site.

    Ok, stepping off the soapbox now…

  6. Daniel Lebbin says:

    Update on ECOAN work in the Rio Chido area here… Also, I think Ben Winger, Dan Lane, Ottavio and Fernando have provided useful commentary.

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