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Grey-backed Hawk Pseudastur occidentalis
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This species has a very small population, which is declining rapidly in response to continuing habitat destruction. Remaining populations are now highly fragmented and most subpopulations are probably extremely small. The species is therefore classified as Endangered.

Taxonomic source(s)
del Hoyo, J.; Collar, N. J.; Christie, D. A.; Elliott, A.; Fishpool, L. D. C. 2014. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Barcelona, Spain and Cambridge UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International.
SACC. 2006. A classification of the bird species of South America. Available at: #

Taxonomic note
Pseudastur occidentalis (del Hoyo and Collar 2014) was previously placed in the genus Leucopternis.

Leucopternis occidentalis Salvin, 1876

45-48 cm. Medium-sized, black-and-white hawk. Adult has blackish mantle and wings. Grey head and nape, streaked white. White tail with broad, black subterminal band. White underparts. Yellow legs. Juvenile browner above with dusky streaking on mantle. Similar spp. Red-backed Hawk Buteo polysoma is paler grey above with red mantle and narrower subterminal band.Voice: A loud husky scream shreeeyr often repeatedly, primarily in flight, most similar to White Hawk's Leucopternis albicollis (Coopmans et al. 2004).

Distribution and population
Leucopternis occidentalis is confined to west Ecuador (Esmeraldas, Manabí, Pichincha, Los Ríos, Azuay, El Oro, Guayas, Cañar and Loja) and adjacent north-west Peru (Tumbes). Most records refer to one or two pairs per site and, if these fragmented outposts represent "stranded" birds rather than dispersive resilience, viable populations may survive at only a few sites. Notable amongst these are Machalilla National Park, Mache-Chindul Ecological Reserve (K. Berg verbally 2002), the largely unprotected IBA Verde-Ónzole-Cayapas-Canandé (EC005 [Freile and Santander 2005b]) (O. Jahn in litt. 2007, P. Mena V. in litt. 2007), the Buenaventura reserve (R. S. Ridgely per J. F. Freile in litt. 2012), and surrounding areas in Piñas, Bosque Protector Cerro Blanco and Manta Real (Vargas 1995), Ecuador, the northern portion of the Cerros de Amotape National Park, the Tumbes National Reserve (now part of the Northwest Peru Biosphere Reserve) and the Angostura-Faical Regional Conservation Area in Tumbes, Peru (R. Piana in litt. 2012), which is relatively secure owing to its remoteness (J. F. Freile in litt. 2000). At this moment, it is unclear if the newly discovered population in the humid lowlands to the far north of the Río Esmeraldas, was previously overlooked or represents a recent expansion the species's range (O. Jahn in litt. 2007, P. Mena V. in litt. 2007). Although it is possible that the species temporarily benefits from forest fragmentation in that area, deforestation rates in Esmeraldas are so high that almost total deforestation might occur within one or two decades (O. Jahn in litt. 2007, P. Mena V. in litt. 2007).

Population justification
The population is estimated to number 250-999 mature individuals based on an assessment of known records, descriptions of abundance and range size. This is consistent with recorded population density estimates for congeners or close relatives with a similar body size, and the fact that only a proportion of the estimated Extent of Occurrence is likely to be occupied. This estimate is equivalent to 375-1,499 individuals in total, rounded here to 350-1,500 individuals.

Trend justification
A moderately rapid and ongoing population decline is suspected to be occurring in response to continuing habitat destruction and fragmentation over the period of the last three generations.

It inhabits dry deciduous and humid evergreen forests, but is more frequently recorded in the latter. This species can be found feeding in fairly degraded habitats in the environs of Machalilla National Park (J. F. Freile in litt. 2000) and at forest edges in Esmeraldas (O. Jahn in litt. 2007, P. Mena V. in litt. 2007)), Piñas and Manta Real (Vargas 1995), and the Tumbes National Reserve (Piana and Marsden in press 2012). It mostly occurs at elevations of 100-1,400 m, but occasionally as high as 2,900 m (Best and Kessler 1995). It feeds on lizards, snakes, crabs, rodents, small birds, earthworms, frogs and large insects (Vargas 1995). Breeding appears to take place year round  and nests and eggs were described by Vargas (1995)  Eight nests were  located in Piñas and two in Bosque Protector Cerro Blanco, Ecuador (Vargas 1995).

There has been extensive habitat destruction and fragmentation throughout its range, with over 90% of west Ecuador now deforested. Clearance for timber and agriculture, and intense grazing pressure from goats and cattle in the forest understorey, have led to west Ecuador's forests becoming one of the world's most threatened ecosystems (Parker and Carr 1992). Even Machalilla National Park is affected by settlement, cutting, livestock-grazing and hunting. Human persecution is a major threat in south-western Ecuador (Vargas  1995). In Esmeraldas, annual deforestation rates of lowland evergreen forest were 3.8% and accumulated loss of primary forest >38% in the last decade (Cárdenas 2007). Colonisation and land development are progressing through infrastructural improvement, particularly the expansion of road networks, and in turn are increasing the impact of logging, cattle-ranching, oil palm planting and hunting (Cárdenas 2007, O. Jahn in litt. 2007, P. Mena V. in litt. 2007). The Mache-Chindul Ecological Reserve is increasingly affected by illegal logging, hunting, and other activities (O. Jahn in litt. 2007). The Tumbes National Reserve and the Angosturas-Faical Regional Protected Area are subject to forest clearing for the establishment of cattle pasturelands and are affected by timber extraction and hunting (Piana and Marsden in press 2012).

Conservation Actions Underway
CITES Appendix II. In Ecuador, the species occurs in Machalilla National Park, Mache-Chindul, Manglares Churute and Arenillas Ecological Reserves, Pacoche Wildlife Reserve and the Northwest Peru Biosphere Reserve, as well as the Chongón-Colonche Protection Forest (which is the nucleus of a reforestation project) (E. Horstmann in litt. 2000, O. Jahn in litt. 2007, P. Mena V. in litt. 2007). Six pairs may breed in the Buenaventura reserve (R. S. Ridgely per J. F. Freile in litt. 2012).  It is also found in other small private reserves like Jorupe, Cantalapiedra, Loma Alta, La Ceiba, El Aromo, Lalo Loor, Caimito and Silanche (J. F. Freile in litt. 2012). Reforestation is under way in several private reserves such as Buenaventura, Canande, Jorupe and Lalo Loor (Vargas in litt. 2012). In Peru, it is found in Cerros de Amotape National Park, Tumbes National Reserve (now part of the Northwest Peru Biosphere Reserve) and the Angostura-Faical Regional Conservation Area in Tumbes (R. Piana in litt. 2012). Conservation Actions Proposed
Census the species in each of the habitat fragments where it occurs (T. S. Schulenberg in litt. 1999). Map the forest patches of the Cordillera Chongón-Colonche to identify further sites for protection (E. Horstmann in litt. 2000). Effectively protect habitat in  Cerros de Amotape National Park, Tumbes National Reserve, Angostura-Faical Regional Conservation Area and Machalilla National Park (R. Piana in litt. 2012). Designate the Awá Reserve, Cotacachi-Cayapas Ecological Reserve, Awacachi Corridor, Gran Reserva Chachi, and Canandé Reserve, including the Río Santiago, Cayapas, Ónzole, and Hoja Blanca drainages, as a biosphere reserve (O. Jahn in litt. 2007, P. Mena V. in litt. 2007). Consolidate protection of the Mache-Chindul Ecological Reserve through law enforcement against illegal logging, hunting, and colonization inside the reserves and sustainable management projects in its buffer zone (O. Jahn in litt. 2007). Search for the species in forest remnants in coastal Nariño, Colombia (O. Jahn in litt. 2007), and forested areas south of the Cerros de Amotape National Park towards the border with Ecuador (R. Piana in litt. 2012)..

Best, B. J.; Kessler, M. 1995. Biodiversity and conservation in Tumbesian Ecuador and Peru. BirdLife International, Cambridge, U.K.

Cárdenas, A. 2007. Análisis multitemporal de cobertura vegetal y uso del suelo para la Ventana Binacional Ecuador, período 1998 - 2007, Proyecto "Diseño del SIMSA - CCCM".

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.

Coopmans, P.; Moore, J. V.; Krabbe, N.; Jahn, O.; Berg, K. S.; Lysinger, M.; Navarrete, L.; Ridgely, R. S. 2004. The birds of southwest Ecuador. John V. Moore Nature Recordings, San Jose, USA.

Freile, J. F.; Santander, T. 2005. Verde-Onzole-Canandé (EC2005). In: BirdLife International/Conservation International (ed.), Áreas importantes para la conservación de las aves en los Andes tropicales: sitios prioritarios para la conservación de la biodiversidad, pp. 303-305. BirdLife International, Quito.

Parker, T. A.; Carr, J. L. 1992. Status of forest remnants in the Cordillera de la Costa and adjacent areas of southwestern Ecuador (Rapid Assessment Program). Conservation International, Washington, D.C.

Piana, R.; Marsden, S. 2012. Diversity, community structure and niche characteristics within a diurnal raptor assemblage of northwestern Peru. The Condor in press.

Vargas, H. 1995. Food habits, breeding biology and status of the Gray-backed Hawk (Leucopternis occidentalis) in western Ecuador. MSc thesis. Boise State University.

Walker, B. 2002. Observations from the Tumbes Reserved Zone, dpto. Tumbes, with notes on some new taxa for Peru and a checklist of the area. Cotinga 18: 37-43.

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.

Search for photos and videos, and hear sounds of this species from the Internet Bird Collection

Text account compilers
Benstead, P., Isherwood, I., Jahn, O., Sharpe, C J, Symes, A.

Arosemena, J., Berg, K., Freile, J., Horstman, E., Jahn, O., Mena-Valenzuela, P., Schulenberg, T., Piana, R., Vargas, H.

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

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Pseudastur occidentalis. Downloaded from on 25/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 25/10/2016.

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 Accipitridae (Hawks, Eagles)
Species name author Salvin, 1876
Population size 250-999 mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 3,630 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species