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Caatinga Antwren Herpsilochmus sellowi
BirdLife is updating this factsheet for the 2016 Red List
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This species is listed as Least Concern as it does not approach the thresholds for any of the IUCN criteria; however, monitoring of the species's population and its habitats are recommended given the prevalence of on-going threats.

Taxonomic source(s)
SACC. 2006. A classification of the bird species of South America. Available at: #

Taxonomic note
Herpsilochmus pileatus (Sibley and Monroe 1990, 1993) has been split into H. pileatus and H. sellowi following SACC (2005).

Size: 12 cm. Summary: A long-tailed well marked canopy Antwren. Id: Male: black crown bordered by white supercilium, with black post-ocular eye-stripe; grey nape; grey back with semiconcealed white dorsal patch; black wings with large white covert tips forming two wing bars, white spotting on the shoulders and fringing to flight feathers; tail black boldly tipped white; underparts white. Female differs in having oliveacous upperparts with a buff forehead and black crown, streaked broadly white; buff tinge on underparts. Similar: Pileated Antwren H. pileatus is smaller with a shorter tail; male also has a grey not white supercilium and lacks the black post-ocular line; female lacks white streaking on the crown (has some grey scalloping on sides), forehead is greyish, buffy grey on face lacking supercilium and post-ocular stripe. Hints: Forages at all heights, usually in pairs; not difficult to see. Voice: A semimusical accelerating trill, becoming louder and more spluttered; often with an introductory note; often as a duet male first then echoed by female. [NEEDS UPDATING]

Distribution and population
Herpsilochmus sellowi occurs in interior north-east Brazil, being recorded from Barra do Corda in central Maranhão, Serra do Cachimbo in south Pará, Chapada de Araripe and Várzea Formosa in Ceará, and several localities in central and south Bahia (Ridgely and Tudor 1994) and north Minas Gerais (Raposo 1997, de Vasconcelos et al. 2006). It is described as very common in some areas (C. Albano in litt. 2010).

Population justification
The population size is unknown, but the species is described as uncommon to fairly common.

Trend justification
Current data on population trends are lacking, but declines are suspected to be occurring, owing to habitat loss.

This species is reported to be localised in occurrence, and inhabits caatinga scrub and deciduous woodland up to 1,000 m.

The relatively small number of known localities is combined with general disturbance of its habitat - the extent of agricultural expansion, grazing and burning is testimony to the prevalence of human pressure throughout its range (Stattersfield et al. 1998). Human population pressure has increased within the range since the 1970s: the Brazilian oil company, Petrobrás, has built roads into the caatinga providing access for the settlement of new areas, and government agencies have relocated many families to the region (Hart 1991). This has been one contributory factor in the increase in agricultural expansion, grazing and burning in caatinga habitats. The species's occurrence in secondary habitats (C. Albano in litt. 2010), however, suggests that it is tolerant of some habitat degradation.

Conservation Actions Underway
No targeted actions are known but the species occurs in several protected areas.

Conservation Actions Proposed
Repeat surveys of known sites to determine rates of range contraction and population trends. Conduct surveys of suitable habitats within and surrounding the known range to determine its true distribution and abundance. Ensure that remaining areas of pristine caatinga habitat receive adequate protection.

Davis, T. J.; O'Neill, J. P. 1986. A new species of antwren (Formicariidae: Herpsilochmus) from Peru, with comments on the systematics of other members of the genus. Wilson Bulletin 98: 337-352.

del Hoyo, J.; Elliott, A.; Christie, D. 2003. Handbook of the Birds of the World, vol. 8: Broadbills to Tapaculos. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.

Hart, J. K. 1991. Conservation of the Lear's Macaw: management of an endangered species. In: Clinton-Eitniear, J. (ed.), Proceedings of the First Mesoamerican Workshop on the Conservation and Management of Macaws, pp. 48-51. Center for the Study of Tropical Birds, Inc., San Antonio, Texas.

Raposo, M. A. 1997. A new species of Arremon (Passeriformes: Emberizidae) from Brazil. Ararajuba 5(1): 3-9.

Ridgely, R. S.; Tudor, G. 1994. The birds of South America. University of Texas Press, Austin, Texas.

Sibley, C. G.; Monroe, B. L. 1990. Distribution and taxonomy of birds of the world. Yale University Press, New Haven, USA.

Stattersfield, A. J.; Crosby, M. J.; Long, A. J.; Wege, D. C. 1998. Endemic bird areas of the world: priorities for bird conservation. BirdLife International, Cambridge, U.K.

Vasconcelos, M.F. de; Neto, S.D'A.; Kirwan, G.M.; Bornschein, M. R.; Diniz, M. G.; da Silva, J.F. 2006. Important ornithological records from Minas Gerais state, Brazil. Bulletin of the British Ornithologists' Club 126(3): 212-238.

Further web sources of information
Explore HBW Alive for further information on this species

Search for photos and videos, and hear sounds of this species from the Internet Bird Collection

Text account compilers
Butchart, S., Taylor, J., Gilroy, J.

Whitney, B., Albano, C.

IUCN Red List evaluators
Butchart, S., Symes, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Herpsilochmus sellowi. Downloaded from on 28/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 28/10/2016.

This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000) Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004) Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife

To contribute to discussions on the evaluation of the IUCN Red List status of Globally Threatened Birds, please visit BirdLife's Globally Threatened Bird Forums.

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Least Concern
Family Thamnophilidae (Antbirds)
Species name author Whitney, Pacheco, Buzzetti & Parrini, 2000
Population size Unknown mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 996,000 km2
Country endemic? Yes
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species