email a friend
printable version
Bahia Tapaculo Eleoscytalopus psychopompus
BirdLife is updating this factsheet for the 2016 Red List
Please email us with any relevant information
BirdLife Species Champion Become a BirdLife Preventing Extinctions Programme Supporter
For information about BirdLife Species Champions and Species Guardians visit the BirdLife Preventing Extinctions Programme.

This species is classified as Endangered. It has a very small population which is continuing to decline owing to habitat loss and degradation. It was previously thought to have a very small range however it has recently been found in a further four municipalities, and has been recorded in modified habitats.

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

Taxonomic note
Scytalopus indigoticus and S. psychopompus (Sibley and Monroe 1990, 1993; Stotz et al. 1996) have been moved into the newly erected genus Eleoscytalopus following SACC (2006).

Scytalopus psychopompas Stotz et al. (1996), Scytalopus psychopompus Sibley and Monroe (1990, 1993), Scytalopus psychopompus BirdLife International (2008)

11.5 cm. Contrasting tapaculo. Slaty above with white underparts. Dark slaty-grey head, upperparts and flanks with bluish tinge. White loral spot. Cinnamon-rufous wash to rump and scapulars. White cheeks and throat extending to belly. Inconspicuous scaled effect on belly. Pale cinnamon-rufous sides to belly and vent. Dark slaty thighs tinged bluish. Blackish bill with whitish base of mandible. Pinkish legs. Similar spp. Closely resembles allopatric White-breasted Tapaculo S. indigoticus, but it lacks the flank barring that is conspicuous in that species. It also has bluish-grey colouring at the base of the tibia compared with barred cinnamon plumage in indigoticus. Voice Consists of a sequence of short notes (27-28, nine emissions per second) similar to S. indigoticus, which is a descending and accelerating series of very dry and harsh tchj staccato notes. Also regular, frog-like, slightly ascending call frrrrrrrooww, lasting an average of 3.25 seconds. The alarm call consists of a low frequency short note (0.6-1.3 kHz).

Distribution and population
This species was, until recently, known only from three specimens taken at two localities in coastal Bahia, Brazil: a male collected in July 1944 at Ilhéus and a pair obtained in October 1983 at Valença (Collar et al. 1992, Krabbe and Schulenberg 2003). The species is no longer present close to these towns, but it has been found at Reserva Ecológica da Michelin of the Plantações Michelin da Bahia, Igrapiúna municipality, near Ituberá, Bahia, and Una Biological Reserve, Una municipality where small populations survive (C. Gatto in litt. 2006, P. C. Lima in litt. 2006, F. Olmos in litt. 2006, K. Flesher in litt. 2010). During thorough surveys near Ituberá, following the discovery, just four territories were identified (C. Gatto in litt. 2006). Surveys by BirdLife/SAVE Brasil have now recorded the species in a further four municipalities: Ilhéus, Maraú, Taperoá and Valença (C. Gatto in litt. 2006, P. Develey in litt. 2007). The bird is extremely shy and retiring and difficult to detect during surveys; factors that no doubt influence our perception of its status.

Population justification
Birds at Itubera are rare and patchily distributed (P. C. Lima in litt. 2006); the population at Una is estimated to number 64-68 pairs (c. 125 mature individuals), and it is here placed in the band 50-249 mature individuals, equating to 75-374 individuals in total, rounded here to 70-400 individuals. Recent records from a number of new locations, and records in degraded habitats, may lead to an upward revision of the total population estimate in the near future.

Trend justification
The species has undoubtedly undergone major declines in the past as the native lowland forest of Bahia on which it relies has been reduced to c. 10% of its original extent. Threats to its habitat remain, therefore continuing declines are suspected. However in the Reserva Ecologica Michelin landscape the population is apparently not showing signs of decline (K. M. Flesher in litt. 2013).

This species occurs at 15-200 m and apparently requires mature wet lowland forests in the Una and Igrapiúna areas, although recent records in Reserva Ecológica da Michelin are from degraded pioneer vegetation along waterways (K. Flesher in litt. 2010). It is restricted to patches in river and stream valleys with small swamps around the main river course or swampy parts of the river itself, up to a maximum of c.50 m from the river channel (C. Gatto in litt. 2006). Its preferred micro-habitat appears to be areas with dense agglomerates of vines and shrubs, covered by trunks and branches of fallen trees (C. Gatto in litt. 2006). In the Reserva Ecologica Michelin and surrounding landscape the species has been registered in degraded habitats (K. M. Flesher in litt. 2013).

The destruction of coastal Atlantic forest has been extensive in Bahia, south of Salvador, and only small fragments remain, totalling perhaps 10% of their original extent in the area (Tobias et al. 2006). The species is presumed to be at great risk from the continuing loss of suitable habitat. 

Conservation and Research Actions Underway
The species is considered Endangered in Brazil (MMA 2014). The Reserva Ecológica da Michelin covers 3,000 ha and is patrolled by four forest guards who have been effective in reducing hunting pressure significantly and in stopping cutting and clearing of the forest, as well as recording the species (K. Flesher in litt. 2010, 2011). A study was due to begin there in 2011, and will focus on the distribution and ecology of the species within and around the reserve (K. Flesher in litt. 2011). The Una Biological Reserve has recently been enlarged to 7,100 ha (A. De Luca in litt. 2008).

Conservation and Research Actions Proposed
Continue studying the known populations at Ituberá and Una. Search for the species in other fragments of remaining habitat in the area. Determine its population size and status at the known localities. Study the species's ecology, including habitat requirements, and breeding biology. Effectively safeguard Una Biological Reserve and the habitat at Ituberá. Initiate sustainable development projects within the species's range.

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.

IUCN. 2015. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015-4. Available at: (Accessed: 19 November 2015).

Krabbe, N. K.; Schulenberg, T. S. 2003. Family Rhinocryptidae (Tapaculos). In: del Hoyo, J.; Elliott, A.; Christie, D.A. (ed.), Handbook of birds of the world, pp. 748-787. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.

MMA. 2014. Lista Nacional Oficial de Espécies da Fauna Ameaçadas de Extinção. Portaria No 444, de 17 de dezembro de 2014. Diário Oficial da União - Seção 1. Nº 245, quinta-feira, 18 de dezembro de 2014.

SACC. 2006. A classification of the bird species of South America. Available at: #

Sibley, C.G. and Monroe, B.L. 1990. Distribution and Taxonomy of Birds of the World. Yale University Press, New Haven, USA.

Sibley, C.G. and Monroe, B.L. 1993. A supplement to 'Distribution and Taxonomy of Birds of the World'. Yale University Press, New Haven, USA.

Stotz, D. F.; Fitzpatrick, J. W.; Parker, T. A.; Moskovits, D. K. 1996. Neotropical birds: ecology and conservation. University of Chicago Press, Chicago.

Tobias, J. A.; Butchart, S. H. M.; Collar, N. J. 2006. Lost and found: a gap analysis for the Neotropical avifauna. Neotropical Birding: 4-22.

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.

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
Bird, J., Butchart, S., Clay, R., Harding, M., Pople, R., Symes, A., Taylor, J., Williams, R. & Ashpole, J

De Luca, A., Develey, P., Flesher, K., Gatto, C., Lima, P. & Olmos, F.

IUCN Red List evaluators
Symes, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Eleoscytalopus psychopompus. Downloaded from on 23/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 23/10/2016.

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 - Bahia tapaculo (Scytalopus psychopompus) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Endangered
Family Rhinocryptidae (Tapaculos)
Species name author (Teixeira & Carnevalli, 1989)
Population size 250-999 mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 7,900 km2
Country endemic? Yes
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species