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Forbes's Blackbird Curaeus forbesi
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This species has a small population, with extremely small subpopulations, and overall numbers are estimated to be declining owing to brood-parasitism by the Shiny Cowbird M. bonariensis and, to a lesser extent, habitat loss and exploitation for the pet trade. It is now known from more than ten sites, but the range is very small and severely fragmented, and it is therefore listed as Endangered.

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

21-24 cm. Medium-sized black icterid. Entirely black, not glossy. Slender bill, without grooves and equal to head length. Straight and flat culmen. Similar spp. Chopi Blackbird Gnorimopsar chopi is glossier and shows shorter, grooved bill with distinctive curve to rounded culmen. Voice Harsh, unpleasant, repeated buzzy notes and chatters. Also loud and rough check check notes reported. Call is a loud, nasal tuí-lit.

Distribution and population
Curaeus forbesi is currently known from widely scattered sites in east and north-east Brazil. The largest numbers have been recorded at Pedra Talhada, Alagoas, where the breeding population was only c.150 birds in the early 1980s, and has subsequently declined. Elsewhere in Alagoas, there have been recent records from Usina Serra Grande and near Matriz de Camaragibe (Roda 2001), and Pedra Branca (near Murici) in 1989, as well as in sugar cane plantations and pastures adjacent to forest at Engenho Coimbro (Roda et al. 2003). There have been recent records from Pernambuco at Usina Trapiche (Roda 2001) and at Mata do Estado (including flocks of up to 70 [S. Aline Roda in litt. 2007]), at São Vicente Ferrer and Engenho Água Azul in Timbaúba (Roda 2002). The ornithological group Observadores de Aves de Pernambuco lists the species for a further nine localities in Pernambuco ( Over 1,400 km to the south, it is known from three sites in Minas Gerais: the confluence of the rio Piracicaba and the rio Doce, where the highest number reported is c.40, near Pirapora (E. O. Willis in litt. 1999), and the borders of Parque Nacional Cavernas do Peruaçu (Vasconcelos et al. 2006). Despite the discovery of new sites, the known range of this species is still thought to be very small and severely fragmented.

Population justification
The population size is preliminarily estimated to fall into the band 1,000-2,499 individuals. This equates to 667-1,666 mature individuals, rounded here to 600-1,700 mature individuals.

Trend justification
Despite a lack of direct estimates of the population size or trend, moderately rapid declines are suspected to be continuing, owing to habitat degradation and reduced reproductive success through nest-parasitism by M. bonariensis.

It inhabits forest edge, adjacent marshy areas and sugarcane plantations. The diet includes fruit, insects and possibly nectar taken from the flowers of sugar cane (S. Aline Roda in litt. 2007). Breeding takes place in the rainy season, usually March-June. Nests are mainly situated in cultivated mango Mangifera indica trees. Mean clutch-size is 2.84 (1-4) and two clutches are laid per season. A 4-10 day delay between finishing nest construction and laying makes the species highly susceptible to brood-parasitism by the Shiny Cowbird Molothrus bonariensis.

Widespread habitat destruction, particularly in north-east Brazil, has even reduced forest-edge areas. However, the species might be able to withstand the conversion of forests to sugarcane plantations to some degree. At Pedra Talhada, the recent decline is also attributed to brood-parasitism by M. bonariensis. In 1981-1986, 64% of studied nests were parasitised and, in 1987, this was 100%. It has been observed in trade and there is potential confusion with the valued G. chopi.

Conservation Actions Underway
It is legally protected in Brazil, and occurs in Rio Doce State Park and Pedra Telhada Biological Reserve. Protection at Pedra Talhada is enforced by guards and apparently welcomed by local communities, but this species mostly occurs outside the reserve (A. Studer per A. Whittaker in litt. 1999). At Rio Doce, it is regularly recorded only in a very small area between the park entrance and Lagoa Carioca (T. A. de Melo Júnior in litt. 1999). Ecological studies and experiments on destroying M. bonariensis eggs are in progress at Pedra Talhada. Conservation Actions Proposed
Urgent need to establish a protected area at Mato do Estado (S. Aline Roda in litt. 2007). Survey known sites in Alagoas and Pernambuco. Re-examine museum collections of G. chopi to disclose additional specimens of this species and identify areas for surveys. Survey to elucidate the species's status at Rio Doce. Investigate protecting habitat near Pirapora. Study and control parasitism by M. bonariensis.

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.

Ferreira de Vasconcelos, M. 2008. Aves registradas na Serra do Papagaio, municipio de Aiuruoca, Minas Gerais. Atualidades Ornitologicas 142: 6-7.

Roda, S. A. 2002. Aves endêmicas e ameaçadas de extinçao de Pernambuco. In: Tabarelli, M.; Silva, J.M.C. (ed.), Diagnóstico da biodiversidade de Pernambuco vol.2, pp. 537-555. Secretaria de Ciência, Technologia e Meio Ambiente, Recife.

Roda, S. A.; Carlos, C. J.; Rodrigues, R. C. 2003. New and noteworthy records for some endemic and threatened birds of the Atlantic forest of north-eastern Brazil. Bulletin of the British Ornithologists' Club 123: 227-236.

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.

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
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.

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Text account compilers
Gilroy, J., Harding, M., Sharpe, C J

Aline Roda, S., Melo Júnior, T., Whittaker, A., Willis, E.

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

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Curaeus forbesi. 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.

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Endangered
Family Icteridae (New World blackbirds)
Species name author (Sclater, 1886)
Population size 600-1700 mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 110 km2
Country endemic? Yes
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species