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Rufous Crab-hawk Buteogallus aequinoctialis
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This species has been uplisted to Near Threatened as it is suspected to be undergoing moderately rapid declines owing to conversion and degradation of its coastal mangrove habitat. However, its population and trend remains poorly known, and better information may lead to further reclassification in future.

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: #

Sooty black with fuscous wings and rufous underparts; yellow-orange legs; short black tail with narrow white band in middle and narrow white tip; rufous edging to wings and back. Similar spp. B. meridionalis, which differs in size, head and throat plumage, and range extent.

Distribution and population
Buteogallus aequinoctialis occurs from the Orinoco Delta, east Venezuela, along the north-east South American coast through Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana to Paraná, south Brazil (del Hoyo et al. 1994). It is apparently frequent to common throughout its range, except for in Trinidad, Trinidad and Tobago, where it is uncommon and local (Restall et al. 2006). In Brazil, the core distribution occurs from Maranhão (or perhaps Piauí) to Amapá, and it is apparently rare from Ceará to Paraná (A. de Luca in litt. 2013).

Population justification
The population has not been quantified but was estimated to be in the thousands assuming an average of 1 pair/km along a mostly linear distribution of c.6,000 km (Ferguson-Lees and Christie 2001).

Trend justification
This species is precautionarily suspected to be undergoing moderately rapid ongoing declines owing to loss of its mangrove habitat.

This species occurs in mangroves and other swampy areas, feeding on crabs (del Hoyo et al. 1994).

The primary threat to this species is accelerating deforestation in the Amazon Basin, and it is projected to lose well over 50% of its known habitat (Soares-Filho et al. 2006, Bird et al. 2011). The area of mangrove habitat in range states along the north-east coast of South America was estimated to have declined by over half during 1980-2000 (Wilkie and Fortuna 2003). However, it is quite tolerant of habitat degradation and occurs in suburban mangrove swamps in Pará, Brazil (A. C. Lees in litt. 2011). Threats to mangroves include development for housing, conversion to shrimp farms and cutting for timber (A de Luca in litt. 2013). In French Guiana there has been little pressure on mangroves owing to their inaccessibility (N. de Pracontal in litt. 2010), while in Brazil loss of mangroves along the coasts of Para and Maranhao has not been extensive (net loss during of 19 km2, or 3.2%, in 1972-1997, Menezes et al. 2008 per A. C. Lees in litt. 2011). In Rio Grande do Norte however, there has been extensive conversion of mangroves to shrimp farming, and only one pair has been noted recently (Grupo Ornitológico Potiguar in litt. 2010).

Conservation actions and research underway
No specific action is known. Mangroves are under considered as APPs (Permanent Protected Areas) under the new Brazilian Forest Code, however there are loopholes that potentially allow their exploitation (P. Develey in litt. 2013).

Conservation actions and research proposed
Conduct repeat surveys across its range to clarify population size and magnitude of declines. Campaign for the protection of remaining tracts of coastal mangrove throughout its range.

Bird, J. P.; Buchanan, J. M.; Lees, A. C.; Clay, R. P.; Develey, P. F.; Yépez, I.; Butchart, S. H. M. 2011. Integrating spatially explicit habitat projections into extinction risk assessments: a reassessment of Amazonian avifauna incorporating projected deforestation. Diversity and Distributions: doi: 10.1111/j.1472-4642.2011.00843.x.

del Hoyo, J.; Elliott, A.; Sargatal, J. 1994. Handbook of the Birds of the World, vol. 2: New World Vultures to Guineafowl. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.

Ferguson-Lees, J.; Christie, D. A. 2001. Raptors of the world. Christopher Helm, London.

IUCN. 2013. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (ver. 2013.2). Available at: (Accessed: 13 November 2013).

Restall, R.; Rodner, C.; Lentino, M. 2006. Birds of northern South America: an identification guide. Volume 1: species accounts. Christopher Helm, London.

Soares-Filho, B.S.; Nepstad, D.C.; Curran, L.M.; Cerqueira, G.C.; Garcia, R. A.; Ramos, C. A.; Voll, E.; McDonald, A.; Lefebvre, P.; Schlesinger, P. 2006. Modelling conservation in the Amazon basin. Nature 440(7083): 520-523.

Wilkie, M.L. and Fortuna, S. 2003. Status and trends in mangrove area extent wordwide. FAO Working Paper FRA 63. FAO, Rome, Italy.

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
Butchart, S., Ekstrom, J., Harding, M., Khwaja, N. & Symes, A.

Lees, A., Pracontal, N., Develey, P. & De Luca, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Buteogallus aequinoctialis. Downloaded from on 26/06/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 26/06/2016.

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 Near Threatened
Family Accipitridae (Hawks, Eagles)
Species name author (Gmelin, 1788)
Population size mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 325,000 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species