email a friend
printable version
Restinga Antwren Formicivora littoralis
BirdLife is updating this factsheet for the 2016 Red List
Please email us with any relevant information
BirdLife Species Champion Dr Urs-Peter Stäuble and British Birdwatching Fair
BirdLife Species Guardian Pingo D'água
For information about BirdLife Species Champions and Species Guardians visit the BirdLife Preventing Extinctions Programme.

This species has been downlisted to Endangered because it has been found to occupy a larger range than previously thought; however, its range remains very small, severely fragmented and in on-going decline owing to habitat loss and degradation. caused primarily by beachfront development. Its habitat remains imminently threatened by more tourist developments. A review of this species's taxonomy is expected in the near future.

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

Taxonomic note
Firme and Raposo (2011) analyse morphometry, plumage and vocalisations of Formicivora serrana and F. littoralis to conclude that Formicivora littoralis is not a valid taxon, but simply a population of Formicivora serrana.

12.5 cm. Predominantly black antwren. Male has black head, neck and underparts. Dark plumbeous back. Two or three narrow, white wing-bars and sometimes extensive white shoulder. White flanks generally concealed. Black tail with small, white apical spots. Female has rufous-brown upperparts, with darker crown and broad black face mask. Whitish eyebrow. Dusky wings. Buffy-cream underparts. Tail similar to male. Voice Song is fast series of low-pitched tchiúk notes. Also high-pitched, nasal kiu-kiu-kiu calls.

Distribution and population
Formicivora littoralis occupies a highly restricted range around Cabo Frio in Rio de Janeiro state, Brazil (Collar et al. 1992). The type-locality, near Arraial do Cabo, is a strip of dunes some 30 km long and up to 400 m wide. It was recorded at two locations on the northern edge of Lagoa de Araruama in 2003-2005 (Vecchi and Alves 2008). Surveys in 2005-2007 resulted in a new locality for the species, Praia de Tucuns (Armação dos Búzios municipality), extending the eastern limit of the species's known range by 5 km, although this likely represents an isolated population (Mattos et al. 2009). These surveys indicate that its range has been underestimated, and its Area of Occupancy has subsequently been estimated at 148 km2 by Mattos et al. (2009). The species is found at high densities within suitable habitat and has been considered abundant on Ilha do Cabo Frio. Its population was recently estimated at c.2,500-3,800 individuals following the surveys in 2005-2007 (Mattos et al. 2009). The species is likely to be declining rapidly owing to habitat loss and degradation.

Population justification
The total population was recently estimated at c.2,500-3,800 individuals, thus the number of mature individuals is precautionarily estimated to be in the range 1,000-2,499.

Trend justification
This species is suspected to be declining rapidly owing to the considerable threats from beachfront development, the salt industry and squatters within its restricted coastal habitat.

It occupies restinga (beach-scrub habitat, rich in cacti and bromeliads, growing on sand-dunes) and other scrub vegetation on coastal hillsides, and can persist in tiny areas of habitat around holiday homes (G. M. Kirwan in litt. 1999). Birds usually forage in pairs, remaining close to the ground in dense thickets. Nests have been found in June, October and November on Ilha do Cabo Frio, and breeding would appear to be almost year-round, as judged from the state of the gonads of collected specimens. The nest is constructed from fibres attached to horizontal branch forks. The clutch-size is two with both sexes sharing parental duties.

The species's range is within a major holiday development area, where suitable habitat is under pressure from clearance for real-estate projects and the increasing presence of squatters. The type-locality is severely threatened by the salt industry and the development of beachfront housing and high standard holiday resorts. An impending major resort development is likely to result in the destruction of most of the restinga fragment at Praia do Peró, which lies within the Pau Brasil Area of Environmental Protection (Mattos et al. 2009).

Conservation Actions Underway
Small amounts of restinga habitat have been protected by three designated areas: the Jacarepiá and Massambaba State Reserves, and the Massambaba Environmental Protection Area. However, in April 2011, Rio de Janeiro created the 9,841 ha Costa do Sol State Park, encompassing six municipalities and protecting almost all of the species' range. Access to Ilha do Cabo Frio is restricted by the Brazilian navy, thereby providing some protection. Research into its ecology (in particular reproduction rates, home range and foraging behaviour) has been completed (T. Pongiluppi in litt. 2010) and a land ownership assessment has commenced, which should result in the creation of new public protected areas (S. F. Bruno in litt. 2008). Awareness campaigns include printing t-shirts and posters and arranging workshops directed at local school teachers (S. F. Bruno in litt. 2008). In 2009, it was reported that a study was underway to investigate the occurrence of the species in the Núcleo Experimental de Iguaba Grande with the aim of assessing the minimum requirements for its survival, including its habitat requirements (Bruno and Brandes 2009). A Species Action Plan was published in 2010 (Alvarez et al. 2010). The removal of marmosets Callithrix spp. is on-going at Massambaba and in Área de Relevante Interesse Ecológico (ARIE) Formigueiro-do-litoral (Area of Relevant Ecological Interest - Restinga Antwren) (T. Pongiluppi in litt. 2010). Conservation Actions Proposed
Survey to ascertain and monitor its status, especially in the Massambaba area. Ensure continued support for the protected areas where it occurs. Conduct impact assessments prior to real-estate projects. Continue environmental awareness campaigns in the area. Transform the Massambaba and Pau Basil Areas of Environmental Protection into biological reserves in order to increase restrictions on human activities and preserve crucial habitat (Mattos et al. 2009). A detailed conservation action plan is presented in Alvarez et al. (2010).

Related state of the world's birds case studies

Alvarez, A. D.; Develey, P. F.; Vecchi, M. B.; Alves, M. A. 2010. Plano de Ação Nacional para a conservação do Formigueiro-do-Litoral (Formicivora littoralis). Instituto Chico Mendes de Conservação da Biodiversidade, Brasilia.

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.

Mattos, J. C. F.; Vale, M. M.; Vecchi, M. B.; Alves, M. A. S. 2009. Abundance, distribution and conservation of the Restinga Antwren Formicivora littoralis. Bird Conservation International 19(4): 392-400.

Vecchi, M. B.; Alves, M. A. S. 2008. New records of the Restinga Antwren Formicivora littoralis Gonzaga and Pacheco (Aves, Thamnophilidae) in the state of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: inland extended range and threats. Brazilian Journal of Biology 68(2): 391-395.

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.

Click here for more information about the Alliance for Zero Extinction (AZE)

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.

Species Guardian Action Update

View photos and videos and hear sounds of this species from the Internet Bird Collection

Text account compilers
Bird, J., Clay, R., Harding, M., Sharpe, C J, Symes, A., Taylor, J., Williams, R.

Alves, M., Bruno, S., Kirwan, G., Pongiluppi, T., Silveira, L.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Formicivora littoralis. Downloaded from on 20/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 20/10/2016.

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 - Restinga antwren (Formicivora littoralis) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Endangered
Family Thamnophilidae (Antbirds)
Species name author Gonzaga & Pacheco, 1990
Population size 1000-2499 mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 260 km2
Country endemic? Yes
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species