Archived 2014 discussion: Plumbeous Hawk (Leucopternis plumbeus): uplist to Vulnerable?

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 Plumbeous Hawk

Plumbeous Hawk Leucopternis plumbeus is considered rare to uncommon in east Panama, west Colombia and Ecuador, and extreme north-west Peru (Hilty and Brown 1986, Ridgely and Gwynne 1989, del Hoyo et al. 1994, Clements and Shany 2001). It is currently listed as Near Threatened under criterion C1+2a(i) on the basis that it has a small population, approaching 10,000 mature individuals, but there was no direct evidence of a decline.

The global population size has not been quantified, but this species has been described as ‘uncommon’ (Stotz et al. 1996). It is subject to mounting deforestation threats within its range (primarily for agriculture) and there have been very few recent records of this species (T. Donegan in litt. 2012). It has recently been assigned to a monotypic genus, reflecting its unique ecological requirements (T. Donegan in litt. 2012). As a result, it is likely that this species has a low global population (T. Donegan in litt. 2012) and may require uplisting to a higher category of threat. Nevertheless, this species is inconspicuous, partly owing to its ‘sit-and-wait’ predatory behaviour (P. G. W. Salaman in litt. 1999), and so could be under-recorded in remaining habitat.

If there is further information to suggest that global population of this species is fewer than 10,000 mature individuals, and its largest subpopulation is ≤1,000 mature individuals, this species would qualify as Vulnerable under criterion C2a(i), on the basis that a continuing population decline could be inferred owing to habitat loss. If there is sufficient evidence to infer a population reduction of ≥30% over three generations (23 years in this species), this species could also qualify as Vulnerable under criterion A2c+3c+4c of the IUCN Red List.

Further information is required on this species’s global population size, population trends and size of the largest subpopulation. It has previously been recorded in degraded forest (del Hoyo et al. 1994, P. G. W. Salaman in litt. 1999) and so any evidence on its ability to persist in degraded and fragmented habitats would be welcome.


Clements, J. F. and Shany, N. (2001) A field guide to the birds of Peru. Lynx Edicions: Barcelona, Spain.

del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A. and Sargatal, J. (1994) Handbook of the birds of the world, pp. 52-205. Lynx Edicions: Barcelona, Spain.

Hilty, S. L. and Brown, W. L. (1986) A guide to the birds of Colombia. Princeton University Press: Princeton.

Ridgely, R. S. and Gwynne, J. A. (1989) A guide to the birds of Panama with Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and Honduras. Princeton University Press: Princeton.

Stotz, D. F., Fitzpatrick, J. W., Parker III, T. A. and Moskovits. D. K. (1996) Neotropical birds: ecology and conservation. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

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6 Responses to Archived 2014 discussion: Plumbeous Hawk (Leucopternis plumbeus): uplist to Vulnerable?

  1. I strongly support the proposed change to ‘Vulnerable’ status. I addition to the pertinent facts well presented in this fact sheet,

    If the population has remained above ≤1,000 mature individuals individuals for at least five years, and is not thought to be undergoing a continuing decline, including a restricted geographic range with limited spatial separation between sub-populations (which enhances the threat posed by logging) it seems appropriate to downlist the species to Vulnerable under criterion D1 (having a population of fewer than 1,000 mature individuals)

  2. Definitely has to be Vulnerable due to logging, deforestation and up-coming mining activities permitted in Ecuador apart of the illegal ones in the distribution area. Due to the absence of information of territory and ecology it is better to categorize L. plumbeous as VU.

  3. Marcus Canuto says:

    I just wanna give a insight of non published data.
    While working as a volunteer in one of the TPF projects, at Soberania National Park on 2005 in Central Panama, following Harpy eagles using telemetry gear troughtout random walks on the dry season (may-november), several displaying raptors were recorded and gps locations obtained.
    Despite detection issues or non use of proper methodology (playback or observation points in the canopy) several individuals or pairs were recorded of Leucopternis semiplumbeous, L. albicollis, and other conspicuous or inconspicuous raptors, but i recorded only once an adult individual of the species Leucopternis plumbeous during the whole 6 month period (at least 100 days of actual random walks). This could attest to its inconspicuous nature (detection) or natural rarity/conservation issues.

  4. Andy Symes says:

    Preliminary proposals

    Based on available information and comments posted above, our preliminary proposal for the 2014 Red List would be to treat Plumbeous Hawk Leucopternis plumbeus as Vulnerable under criteria A2c+3c+4c.

    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.

  5. Marcus Canuto says:

    I wish only to add new unpublished data from another observer, Campbell-Thompson, who was also present on several of my observations in the 6 months period i stayed in the park. He stayed working in Soberania NP for at least 5 years.
    He witnessed a few records, aproximatelly one record per year, on individuals of the Leucopternis plumbeus. No records on pairs and no records on soaring behavior were obtained.
    But we highlight once more the lack of using climbing techiniques for observations points in the canopy.

  6. Andy Symes says:

    Recommended categorisation to be put forward to IUCN

    Following further review, there has been no change to our preliminary proposal for the 2014 Red List status of this species.

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

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