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Slender Antbird Rhopornis ardesiacus
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This species has a very small and severely fragmented range and population, with records from few locations (Collar et al. 1992). Remaining habitat is declining rapidly, principally for conversion to cattle pasture. It consequently qualifies as Endangered.

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

Taxonomic note
Gender agreement of species name follows David and Gosselin (2002b).

Rhopornis ardesiaca Collar and Andrew (1988), Rhopornis ardesiaca BirdLife International (2000), Rhopornis ardesiaca Collar et al. (1994), Rhopornis ardesiaca Stotz et al. (1996), Rhopornis ardesiaca BirdLife International (2004), Rhopornis ardesiaca Sibley and Monroe (1990, 1993)

19 cm. Large, grey antbird with red iris. Male ashy-grey above, paler below. Black, triangular throat patch. Long blackish tail and wings with fine white wing-bars. Long blackish bill. Female resembles male but duller. Rufous-brown forehead, crown and hindneck. Paler underparts. Whitish throat. Brownish iris. Voice Song is series of six or seven high-pitched and sharp kíu notes, of c.3 seconds duration. Sharp and metallic tchíek calls.

Distribution and population
Rhopornis ardesiacus occupies a small range in east Bahia (from Brejões south to Potiraguá [E. Luiz in litt. 2012]) and north-east Minas Gerais (Fazenda Santana, near Salto da Divisa [Ribon and Maldonado-Coelho 2001]), Brazil. Although it can be locally common, it is very rare and presumably declining owing to the rapid loss and fragmentation of its restricted habitat.

Population justification
The population is estimated to number 1,000-2,499 individuals based on an assessment of known records, descriptions of abundance and range size. This is consistent with recorded population density estimates for congeners or close relatives with a similar body size, and the fact that only a proportion of the estimated Extent of Occurrence is likely to be occupied. This estimate is equivalent to 667-1,666 mature individuals, rounded here to 600-1,700 mature individuals. However, censuses in forest fragments in Boa Nova revealed an average density of 0.9 individuals / hectare and suggests that the populations exceeds 2500 birds (E. Luiz in litt. 2012).

Trend justification
A rapid and ongoing population decline is suspected owing to rates of habitat loss.

It inhabits dry forest (mata-de-cipó) between 100-900 m, in areas characterised by a fairly open understorey with an abundance of lianas and patches of the huge terrestrial bromeliads of the genera Aechmea and Ananas. Pairs seem to have small home ranges (possibly as little as 50 m across, with estimates of 0.9 to 2 ha at Boa Nova [E. Luiz in litt. 2007]), but as suitable bromeliad patches are seldom close together, territories are usually separated by 100 m or more. The birds feed on the ground, on low branches and in the bromeliads, where they toss leaves searching for invertebrate prey, principally small termites but also including grasshoppers, crickets, cockroaches and spiders. They have also been observed following army ant swarms. Breeding occurs primarily in October-December. A nest was found resting on a bromeliad leaf at ground level in a patch of terrestrial bromeliads in November (Luiz 2008).

Dry forest in east Bahia has been reduced to scattered fragments by rapid and continuing clearance for cattle pasture as well as clearance for firewood by local communities. Cattle and goats trample seedlings and prevent forest regrowth, and in some areas bromeliads are harvested for sale (E. Luiz in litt. 2007). Fragments totalled about 965 km2 in the early 1970s and, by 1990, 5-20% (nearer 5%) of primary dry forest was estimated to remain in this part of Bahia. However, much of what remains is apparently unsuitable for the species since many woodlots are highly disturbed by livestock. Furthermore, it has not been found in several areas of relatively pristine habitat.

Conservation Actions Underway
It is protected under Brazilian law. A conservation project began in 2004 at Boa Nova aiming to involve the local community with focus on research into the species' ecology, environmental education and awareness campaigns and implementing sustainable land-use practices (E. Luiz in litt. 2007). In 2010 a 10,000 ha national park and a 17,000 ha wildlife refuge were created at Boa Nova (E. Luiz in litt. 2012).
Conservation Actions Proposed
Establish further protected areas within the species' range, especially at Salto da Divisa, Minas Gerais (E. Luiz in litt. 2012). Regulate land use within Boa Nova national park and restore habitats there (E. Luiz in litt. 2012).

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

Luiz, E. R. 2008. Reproductive notes on the Slender Antbird Rhopornis ardesiacus. Cotinga: 65-67.

Ribon, R.; Maldonado-Coelho, M. 2001. Range extension for Slender Antbird Rhopornis ardesiaca with comments on external morphology of adults. Cotinga 16: 52-56.

Further web sources of information
Alliance for Zero Extinction (AZE) species/site profile. This species has been identified as an AZE trigger due to its IUCN Red List status and limited range.

Detailed species account from the Threatened birds of the Americas: the BirdLife International Red Data Book (BirdLife International 1992). Please note taxonomic treatment and IUCN Red List category may have changed since publication.

Detailed species account from the Threatened birds of the Americas: the BirdLife International Red Data Book (BirdLife International 1992). Please note, taxonomic treatment and IUCN Red List category may have changed since publication.

Explore HBW Alive for further information on this species

Recuento detallado de la especie tomado del libro Aves Amenazadas de las Americas, Libro Rojo de BirdLife International (BirdLife International 1992). Nota: la taxonomoía y la categoría de la Lista Roja de la UICN pudo haber cambiado desde esta publicación.

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

Text account compilers
Capper, D., Clay, R., Pople, R., Sharpe, C J, Symes, A., Williams, R.

Whittaker, A., Luiz, É.

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

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Rhopornis ardesiacus. Downloaded from on 22/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 22/10/2016.

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.

Additional resources for this species

ARKive species - Slender antbird (Rhopornis ardesiacus) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Endangered
Family Thamnophilidae (Antbirds)
Species name author (Wied, 1831)
Population size 600-1700 mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 2,400 km2
Country endemic? Yes
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species