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Paramillo Tapaculo Scytalopus canus
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This newly split species is listed as Endangered on the basis that it is restricted to only two areas of páramo that may be susceptible to the effects of climate change, and occupies a very small range, in which the extent and quality of suitable habitats are already in decline owing to deforestation and fires.

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

Taxonomic note
Scytalopus magellanicus (Sibley and Monroe 1990, 1993) has been split into S. magellanicus, S. griseicollis, S. fuscicauda, S. altirostris, S. affinis, S. acutirostris, S. urubambae, S. simonsi, S. zimmeri, S. fuscus and S. canus following SACC (2005). Scytalopus canus has been split into S. canus and S. opacus following SACC (2010).

10.5 cm. A fairly small, dark tapaculo (del Hoyo et al. 2003). Adult males are uniform grey above and deep grey below; iris dark brown; upper mandible blackish, lower dark grey; base of bill often paler. Tarsus dark grey-brown to blackish on outside, pale to dark grey-brown on the inside. Female apparently not known with certainty, but probably paler with brown on upperparts or flanks (del Hoyo et al. 2003). Similar spp Blackish Tapaculo S. latrans is very similar in appearance but has very different vocalisations. Other dark tapaculos in Colombia have distinct brown or reddish colouration to the lower flanks. Voice Song a 4- to 12-second trill or churring, with 7-11 notes per second, accelerating, with falling pitch. Note that S. opacus has a more rapid trilling song with lower more constant pitch and constant or decelerating pace (Krabbe and Cadena 2010).

Distribution and population
Scytalopus canus was first described by Chapman in 1915 (Krabbe and Cadena 2010), but was subsumed into S. magellanicus until a taxonomic study was published in 1997 (Krabbe and Schulenberg 1997). Subsequently S. opacus was treated as a subspecies of S. canus owing to a lack of recorded vocalisations for S. canus; however, a recent analysis of vocal and genetic differences supports their treatment as separate species (Krabbe and Cadena 2010). S. canus is so far only known from Páramo de Paramillo and Páramo de Frontino (Páramo del Sol) in the Western Andes of Colombia (Krabbe and Cadena 2010, Fundación ProAves 2011).

Population justification
The population has been estimated to number fewer than 1,000 individuals, although this may be overly conservative given the species's range size. It is placed in the band 250-999 mature individuals, equivalent to 375-1,499 individuals in total, rounded here to 350-1,500 individuals.

Trend justification
The species's population is suspected to be in decline owing to the loss, fragmentation and degradation of suitable habitats primarily through continued deforestation and intermittent fires.

The species inhabits vegetation at the timberline in the transition zone between páramo grasslands and forest, including scrub, stunted trees and Polylepis woodland (Krabbe and Cadena 2010, (Fundación ProAves 2011). It forages on moss-covered trunks, along branches in dense scrub and on the ground for small invertebrates and berries (del Hoyo et al. 2003).

Deforestation continues to affect the timberline ecotone in the species's range (Fundación ProAves 2011). Its habitats are also threatened by fires. In January 2010, a fire accidentally started by hikers destroyed an area of suitable habitat at Páramo de Frontino. Its ability to adapt to regenerating forest (Fundación ProAves in litt. 2011) may limit the impacts of these threats. As a high elevation species it is potentially threatened by the effects of climate change, which may influence the frequency and severity of fires and droughts and could alter the extent of suitable habitats (Fundación ProAves 2011).

Conservation Actions Underway
A small patch (c.1.4 km2) of suitable habitat at Páramo de Frontino is effectively protected by Colibrí del Sol Bird Reserve (Fundación ProAves 2011). Paramillo National Park supposedly protects Páramo de Paramillo; however in reality it is ineffective, with no attempts to control ongoing high deforestation rates ongoing inside the park (Fundación ProAves 2011). Conservation Actions Proposed
Carry out surveys to obtain a population estimate. Search for the species at areas of páramo near the known locations. Monitor population trends. Monitor the extent and condition of suitable habitat. Improve the protection of Paramillo National Park. Increase the area of protected habitat at Páramo de Frontino.

Fundación ProAves de Colombia. 2011. Notes on the status of various threatened birds species occurring in Colombia. Conservacion Colombiana 15: 22-28.

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
Sharpe, C J, Taylor, J.

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

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Scytalopus canus. Downloaded from on 24/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 24/10/2016.

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 - Paramillo tapaculo (Scytalopus canus) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Endangered
Family Rhinocryptidae (Tapaculos)
Species name author Chapman, 1915
Population size 250-999 mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 940 km2
Country endemic? Yes
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species