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Palkachupa Cotinga Phibalura boliviana
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This newly-split species has been classified as Endangered as it is is estimated to have a single, very small population which is likely to be declining rapidly owing to large-scale clearance and burning of its moist savannah habitat for cattle-ranching and agriculture.

Taxonomic source(s)
Hennessey, A. B. 2011. Species rank of Phibalura (flavirostris) boliviana based on plumage, soft part color, vocalizations, and seasonal movements. The Wilson Journal of Ornithology 123(3): 454-458.

Taxonomic note
Phibalura flavirostris (Sibley and Monroe 1990, 1993) has been split into P. flavirostris and P. boliviana by the BirdLife Taxonomic Working Group on the basis of the evidence presented by Hennessey (2011).

21-22 cm. A beautiful and strongly patterned cotinga with a long, forked tail. The male has a blackish head with blue gloss. Small red crown patch and blurred brownish grey supercilium. Bright golden yellow throat and cheeks. White line from behind auriculars connect with white breast heavily barred black. Rest of underparts yellow, brighter on crissum, with sparse shaft-like streaks. Upperparts yellowish olive coarsely barred blackish, more dense on nape. Blackish wings, pale grey spots on tertials. Long and forked tail blackish with olivaceous base to outer rectrices; often held separated, in a 'V' shape. Pinkish eyering. Female is duller; greyer on head, less white on neck, more olive on wings and the shorter tail. Similar spp. Unmistakable. Voice A harsh but weak contact note, given frequently at over one per second and repeated up to 18 times. Hints Perches still for long periods high in the edge of forests, open woodlands and gardens.

Distribution and population
Phibalura boliviana, which was formerly considered conspecific with P. flavirostris and is endemic to Bolivia, went unrecorded for 98 years until its rediscovery at the edge of a small (2-4 km2) forest fragment near Pata, north-west of Apolo in Madidi National Park in September 2000 (A. B. Hennessey in litt. 2002). The total population has since been estimated to number 600-800 individuals (ABC 2011), with the majority (400-500 individuals, Hennessey 2010) in an area surrounding the town of Apolo, and the population stronghold thought to lie around the small village of Atén, just outside Madidi National Park. Loss of its moist high altitude savanna habitat has been extensive and is ongoing at a rapid rate; the species has disappeared from some former localities where habitat is now non-existent, and breeding success at remaining sites, many of them highly degraded, is low.

Population justification

The total population has been estimated to number 600-800 individuals by ABC (2011), which equates to c.400-530 mature individuals.

Trend justification
A rapid and on-going decline is suspected owing to rates of habitat loss.

It is known from the edge of moist forest fragments on a large intermontane plateau believed to originally have been covered with semi-humid forest with marshes in valley bottoms and savanna-like mountain ridge vegetation, but now highly degraded, heavily grazed and frequently burned with only fragments of moist forest remaining (Bromfield et al. 2004). The species has been found within an altitudinal range of 1,400-2,000 m, with breeding taking place from August to March; unusually among cotingas, the species is monogamous and incubation is by both parents (Avalos 2011). Unlike P. flavirostris the species does not appear to undertake seasonal movements (Hennessey 2011), but gathers in flocks in the non-breeding season (A. van Kleunen in litt. 2012). It forages by flycatching in the forest canopy and eating fruits. It prefers to nest in trees along forest edges and even in isolated trees among savannah-type habitat, nesting in loose colonies of up to five pairs (A. van Kleunen in litt. 2012), but nests have also been found on barren, rocky ridge tops, which may indicate a lack of adequate nesting trees (ABC 2011).


Forest cover in the Apolo area has been drastically reduced over the past century and losses are continuing owing to large-scale clearance and burning for cattle ranching and agriculture. Habitat largely consists of highly eroded and degraded grazing land which is subject to annual burning (Bromfield et al. 2004). Wildfires are thought to reduce nesting success (Avalos 2010). Parts of the former range are now completely treeless and the species absent (B. Hennessey and A. van Kleunen in litt. 2012). Land redistribution laws due to come into force in in the area in 2012-2013 may impact efforts to protect remaining habitat (B. Skolnik and F. Rheindt in litt. 2012). Nesting success is low (c.20%, W. Ferrufino per. F. Rheindt in litt. 2012), with predation by jays, presumably facilitated by habitat degradation, apparently a major cause of nest failure. Extreme weather such as thunderstorms with strong winds and hail may be another important cause of nest failure, as nests are built in exposed locations (W. Ferrufino per. A. van Kleunen in litt. 2012). Such weather conditions may be becoming more frequent (A. van Kleunen in litt. 2012), and may be exacerbated by a lack of suitable nest sites leading to nesting in suboptimal locations.

Conservation Actions Underway
Part of the range is within Madidi National Park, but it is currently designated as a management area (which permits agricultural activity including clearance by burning) (Bromfield et al. 2004). The current stronghold around Atén is outside the park boundary, was unprotected, but a conservation project run by BirdLife Partner Armonía has been underway since 2008, and in 2010 a 59 ha reserve was established for the species. Negotiations with landowners continue, with the hope of purchasing additional land. Work with local communities has so far included improvements to a local school, attempts to raise the profile of and engender local pride in the species, and the training of local high school students as research assistants.
Conservation Actions Proposed
Extend the area of nature reserve, and fence the boundary to prevent further cattle grazing and allow reforestation. Work with neighbouring landowners to manage fires to enable the restoration of savannah habitat. Purchase the protection rights for nesting trees, and fence these off as sanctuary areas. Plant trees to provide nesting habitat where appropriate. Continue awareness-raising activities in local communities, and involve local people in research and monitoring.

ABC. 2011. New Bird Species for Bolivia. Available at:

Avalos, V. del R. 2011. Biparental care and nesting success of the Swallow-tailed Cotinga in Bolivia. The Wilson Journal of Ornithology 123(2): 251-258.

Avalos, V. del R. 2011. Distribucion, poblacion y conservaction de la Palkachupa (Phibalura flavirostris boliviana, Cotingidae) en el area de Apolo, Bolivia. Ornitologia Neotropical 22(1): 1-13.

Bromfield, G.; Ritchie, W.N.; Bromfield, V.; Ritchie, J.; Hennessey, A. B. 2004. New information on plumage, nesting, behaviour and vocalisations of the Bolivian Swallow-tailed Cotinga Phibalura flavirostris boliviana from the Apolo area of Madidi National Park, Bolivia. Cotinga 21: 63-67.

del Hoyo, J.; Elliott, A.; Christie, D. 2004. Handbook of the Birds of the World, vol. 9: Cotingas to Pipits and Wagtails. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.

Hennessey, A. B. 2011. Species rank of Phibalura (flavirostris) boliviana based on plumage, soft part color, vocalizations, and seasonal movements. The Wilson Journal of Ornithology 123(3): 454-458.

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

Snow, D. 1982. The cotingas: bellbirds, umbrellabirds and their allies. British Museum (Natural History) and Oxford University Press, London and Oxford.

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
Symes, A.

Hennessey, A., Berg, M., van Kleunen, A., Avalos, V., Wallace, R., Skolnik, B., Rheindt, F.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Phibalura boliviana. 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 Cotingidae (Cotingas)
Species name author Chapman, 1930
Population size 400-530 mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 650 km2
Country endemic? Yes
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species