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Iquitos Gnatcatcher Polioptila clementsi
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This recently described species has an extremely small range and population which continues to decline owing to habitat loss (Whitney and Alvarez Alonso 2006). For these reasons it is classified as Critically Endangered.

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

A typical gnatcatcher. Largely pale grey with a thin black bill, black eye with a conspicuous broken white eyering, black legs and white corners to the tail. Has a uniformly grey throat and chest, with a white belly, undertail coverts and undertail. Males lack any black on the head, shown in all other species bar one. Similar spp None within the range. Voice Can be distinguished from other gnatcatchers by "inverted chevron-shaped" introductory notes to its song, followed by a series of evenly spaced notes delivered at a faster pace.

Distribution and population
This species has recently been described from the Reserva Nacional Allpahuayo-Mishana just west of Iquitos, Department of Loreto, Peru. Surveys of available habitat within the reserve have only located 15 pairs. Since its discovery, the species has apparently become more difficult to locate each year.

Population justification
The population estimate of 50-249 mature individuals is derived from Whitney and Alvarez (2006) and Alvarez (in litt. 2006). This equates to 75-374 individuals in total, rounded here to 70-400 individuals.

Trend justification
The population is suspected to be in rapid decline owing to ongoing deforestation (Whitney and Alvarez 2006). This suspicion is supported by the apparent increasing scarcity of the species.

It is rare within white-sand forest with a canopy height of 15-30 m, and is consistently found in tall, humid varillal forest. The species is most vocal during September-December (Shany et al. 2007).

Available habitat continues to be threatened by clearance for agriculture (facilitated by government incentives to encourage colonisation of land surrounding Iquitos) and logging of forest within a national reserve, for construction, fuelwood and charcoal.

Conservation Actions Underway
The entire known population occurs within the boundaries of the Reserva Nacional Allpahuayo-Mishana. There is now increased awareness of the bird in villages surrounding its known range. It has been adopted as the official bird of Iquitos ('La Perlita de Iquitos') and an Iquitos Gnatcatcher festival has been held (Shany et al. 2007). Despite significant effort, no new individuals were located in 2009 (Shany in litt. 2010). 55 privately owned properties totalling 960 ha within the eastern section Peru's Allpahuayo Mishana National Reserve had been donated by December 2012 to SERNANP, the government agency that administers national protected areas. Conservation Actions Proposed
Attempt to purchase any further private property within the Allpahuayo-Mishana reserve known to hold Iquitos Gnatcatchers or in appropriate habitat. Conduct natural history research (especially foraging flock dynamics, microhabitat requirements, and breeding behaviour) to improve survey methods and protection actions. Conduct further surveys for the species in suitable habitat during its vocal period (when there is increased detectability) (A. B. Hennessey in litt. 2007). Enforce protection of remaining habitat within the Reserva Nacional Allpahuayo-Mishana. Review the possibility of purchasing adjacent disturbed properties outside of reserve with reforestation plan and buffer zone.

Shany, N.; Díaz Alván, J.; Álvarez Alonzo, J. 2007. Iquitos Gnatcatcher Polioptila clementsi. Neotropical Birding: 67.

Whitney, B.M.; Alonso, J. A. 2005. A new species of gnatcatcher from white-sand forests of northern Amazonian Peru with revision of the Polioptila guianensis complex. Wilson Bulletin 117: 113-127.

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)

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
Bird, J., Butchart, S., Calvert, R., Sharpe, C J & Symes, A.

Alvarez, J., Hennessey, A., Shany, N. & Whitney, B.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Polioptila clementsi. Downloaded from on 21/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 21/10/2016.

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 Critically Endangered
Family Polioptilidae (Gnatcatchers)
Species name author Whitney & Alvarez Alonso, 2005
Population size 50-249 mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 19 km2
Country endemic? Yes
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species