email a friend
printable version
Band-tailed Antwren Myrmotherula urosticta
BirdLife is updating this factsheet for the 2016 Red List
Please email us with any relevant information

This species qualifies as Vulnerable as it has a small, fragmented and declining range, and a small and rapidly declining population. Its survival probably depends on the preservation of forest at key sites.

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

9.5 cm. Small, pale, relatively long-tailed antwren. Male plumbeous. Black wings with two bold white wing-bars. Black tail with broad white terminal band. Underparts paler with black bib. Female similar, but paler above. Grey wings with whitish wing-bars, creamy-buff underparts, whitish on throat and greyish on flanks. Similar spp. Tail-band is distinctive. Sympatric White-flanked Antwren M. axillaris luctuosa can show white tip to tail, but never as extensively. Also much darker with less contrasting bib. Voice Nasal descending beer bin.

Distribution and population
Myrmotherula urosticta occurs in east Brazil, from 25 km north of Valença, east-central Bahia, south through south-east Bahia, Espírito Santo, to Fazenda União, near Rocha Leão, east-central Rio de Janeiro, with one old specimen from extreme east Minas Gerais. It appears to be largely dependent on forest at nine or ten sites in south-east Bahia (P. Develey and L. F. Silveira in litt. 2003, P. C. Lima in litt. 2003), and Sooretama Biological Reserve and Linhares Forest Reserve, north Espírito Santo. Even at these sites its range is restricted but, where present, it is uncommon to fairly common (Whitney and Pacheco 1995). Recently discovered sites in Bahia include: the Serra das Lontras, Helvécia - rio Peruíbe, forests between Ituberá and Camamu (southern Bahia) and the remnant forests of Santo Amaro and Cachoeira (in the Reconcavo area of Bahia) (P. Develey and L. F. Silveira in litt. 2003, P. C. Lima in litt. 2003).

Population justification
The population is estimated to number 2,500-9,999 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 1,667-6,666 mature individuals, rounded here to 1,500-7,000 mature individuals.

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

It inhabits the lower growth of primary or moderately disturbed coastal Atlantic forest (below 100 m), but not second growth with a canopy height of less than c.15-20 m. It is encountered almost exclusively with mixed-species flocks, foraging from 3-9 m above ground, mostly 5-7 m, in live vegetation and vines (Whitney and Pacheco 1997). It is much more common at Sooretama (situated on a plateau with sandy soil and with a variable dry season) than the adjacent Linhares (very slightly lower-elevation forest), but the significance of this is unknown (Whitney and Pacheco 1995).

Virtually all lowland Atlantic forest outside protected areas has been cleared within its historical range, and even some of the protected areas in which it occurs are not secure (Whitney and Pacheco 1995). Its habitats are historically threatened by agricultural conversion and deforestation for mining and plantation production, and current key threats are urbanisation, agricultural expansion, colonisation and associated road-building (Dinerstein et al. 1995, Fearnside 1996).

Conservation Actions Underway
It occurs in six protected areas, three of which (Sooretama Biological Reserve, Monte Pascoal National Park and Una Biological Reserve) are afforded the highest legal protection (Whitney and Pacheco 1995). Appropriate habitat within these reserves is limited, but some secondary growth may regenerate sufficiently (Whitney and Pacheco 1995). The unprotected Fazenda União, Rio de Janeiro, is the only site where the species occurs with both Salvadori's Antwren M. minor and Unicolored Antwren M. unicolor. Conservation Actions Proposed
Carry out surveys to obtain an estimate of the species's population size. Monitor the decline and degradation of suitable habitat. Protect Fazenda União. Ensure de facto protection of existing reserves by hiring, training and maintaining guards from local communities. Actively pursue all measures to stimulate environmental awareness in communities near reserves.

Dinerstein, E.; Olson, D. M.; Graham, D. J.; Webster, A. L.; Primm, S. A.; Bookbinder, M. P.; Ledec, G. 1995. A conservation assesssment of the terrestrial ecoregions of Latin America and the Caribbean. World Bank, Washington, D.C.

Fearnside, P. 1996. Brazil. In: Harcourt, C.S.; Sayer, J.A. (ed.), The conservation atlas of tropical forests: the Americas, pp. 229-248. Simon & Schuster, New York and London.

Whitney, B. M.; Pacheco, J. F. 1995. Distribution and conservation status of four Myrmotherula antwrens (Formicariidae) in the Atlantic Forest or Brazil. Bird Conservation International 5(2/3): 421-439.

Whitney, B. M.; Pacheco, J. F. 1997. Behavior, vocalizations, and relationships of some Myrmotherula Antwrens (Thamnophilidae) in eastern Brazil, with comments on the "plain-winged" group. Ornithological Monographs 48: 809-819.

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
Benstead, P., Capper, D., Clay, R., Sharpe, C J, Symes, A.

De Luca, A., Develey, P., Lima, P.

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

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Myrmotherula urosticta. Downloaded from on 28/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 28/10/2016.

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 - Band-tailed antwren (Myrmotherula urosticta) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Vulnerable
Family Thamnophilidae (Antbirds)
Species name author (Sclater, 1857)
Population size 1500-7000 mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 3,000 km2
Country endemic? Yes
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species