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Lesser Nothura Nothura minor

Rapid and extensive conversion of cerrado grasslands is presumably causing a rapid population reduction in this small tinamou. The population is now likely to be small and fragmented over a large range, and the species therefore qualifies as Vulnerable.

Taxonomic source(s)
SACC. 2006. A classification of the bird species of South America. Available at:
Sibley, C. G.; Monroe, B. L. 1990. 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.

18-20 cm. Small rufescent tinamou. Chestnut crown with yellowish mottling. Warm buff face, paler throat. Yellowish-buff neck, spotted dark brown, becoming streaky towards breast. Rest of underparts pale buff with some brownish markings on flanks. Chestnut-brown upperparts barred rufous with creamy fringes. Rufous wings barred dusky. In the black phase, brown areas of plumage are replaced with black (L. F. Silveira in litt. 2012). Yellow legs. Blackish bill. Brown iris. Similar spp. Spotted Nothura N. maculosa is less rufescent, has more contrasting white throat, and darker and heavier markings on neck. Voice Series of long, high-pitched and metallic peeeeep whistles, also faster and shorter notes. Different from usual trilling voice of N. maculosa.

Distribution and population
Nothura minor has been recently recorded from very few sites over a large range in south-central Brazil, and one site, recently discovered in north-east Paraguay (Mazar Barnett et al. 2004.). There are post-1980 records from Brasília, Emas and Serra da Canastra National Parks (Distrito Federal, Goiás and Minas Gerais) (Silveira 1998), IBGE Roncador Biological Reserve and Taguatinga (both Distrito Federal) (Silveira and Silveira 1998), Itapetininga Experimental Station and Itirapina Experimental Station (both São Paulo; it has not been recorded subsequently at Itirapina) (L. F. Silveira in litt. 1999, 2007), and a 1970s record from Luziânia (Goías). In Paraguay, the species was discovered in November 2001 at Laguna Blanca, San Pedro department, and subsequent surveys have revealed a minimum of 14 calling birds in three different areas (Mazar Barnett et al. 2004, H. del Castillo in litt. 2003, 2007). Even at these known sites, it occurs at relatively low densities (e.g. three calling birds in c.20 ha in Brasília National Park) and is absent from much apparently suitable habitat. There are no recent records from Mato Grosso, Mato Grosso do Sul or a number of sites in the states mentioned above, indicating a potentially large contraction in range.

Population justification
The population is estimated to number 2,500-9,999 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 3,750-14,999 individuals, rounded here to 3,500-15,000 individuals.

Trend justification
The species has suffered from major habitat loss; however, most of the known population is now in protected areas. Based on this information, a moderate and ongoing population decline is suspected to be taking place.

In Brazil it favours 'campo limpo' grassland at 700-1,000 m (Parker et al. 1996, L. F. Silveira in litt. 1999, 2007), although the Paraguayan site is considerably lower (about 200 m a.s.l.), generally preferring scrubbier areas (campo sujo) than N. maculosa. It appears to prefer areas with a continuous cover of tall grasses and sedges, and has not been seen in recently burnt vegetation. Breeding is probably October-February.

Suitable grasslands have been rapidly destroyed by mechanised agriculture, intensive cattle-ranching, afforestation with non-native trees such as Eucalyptus, planting of exotic grasses, excessive use of pesticides and annual burning (Stotz et al. 1996, Parker and Willis 1997, H. del Castillo in litt. 2003, 2007). By 1993, two-thirds of the Cerrado region had been heavily or moderately altered (Conservation International 1999), with most of the destruction having occurred since 1950 (Cavalcanti 1999). In Paraguay, the Reserva Natural Privada Laguna Blanca, San Pedro is failing to protect the species since its natural grasslands are being converted to pastures with exotic grass species and Eucalyptus plantations. The population of this species has reduced to a few calling birds in a neighboring property which is now a Eucalyptus plantation (H. del Castillo in litt. 2012). Most of the known population is now in protected areas, and it is extremely rare outside them (L. F. Silveira in litt. 2012).

Conservation Actions Underway
It is protected under Brazilian law, and occurs in Brasília, Emas, Serra da Canastra (Silveira 1998) and Chapada dos Veadeiros (L. F. Silveira in litt. 1999, 2007) National Parks, IBGE Roncador Biological Reserve and Itapetininga Experimental Station. It is protected under Paraguayan law, being considered Critically Endangered at the national level (H. del Castillo in litt. 2012). Its occurs in one patch of cerrado, the IBA Laguna Blanca, in San Pedro department, in low numbers on private properties (H. del Castillo in litt. 2012).
Conservation Actions Proposed
Survey suitable habitat in Serra do Cipó and Chapada dos Veadeiros National Parks, using tape-playback (L. F. Silveira in litt. 1999, 2007). Identify unprotected areas of suitable habitat in north and west Minas Gerais and Goiás and survey for this and other threatened Cerrado species (L. F. Silveira in litt. 1999, 2007). Conduct surveys in remaining areas of suitable habitat in north-eastern Paraguay to clarify status and range. Investigate habitat requirements and ecology (L. F. Silveira in litt. 1999, 2007). Purchase and protect occupied areas of unprotected habitat.  Review the plans for the expansion of farming within the Reserva Natural Privada Laguna Blanca and secure other private properties inside the Cerrado de Laguna Blanca IBA, Paraguay (H. del Castillo in litt. 2012).

Barnett, J.M.; Carlos, C.J.; Roda, S. A. 2005. Renewed hope for the threatened avian endemics of northeastern Brazil. Biodiversity and Conservation 14: 2265-2274.

Cavalcanti, R. B. 1999. Bird species richness and conservation in the Cerrado region of central Brazil. Studies in Avian Biology 19: 244-249.

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.

Conservation International. 1999. Açoes prioritárias para a conservaçao da biodiversidade do Cerrado e Pantanal.

Parker, T. A.; Stotz, D. F.; Fitzpatrick, J. W. 1996. Ecological and distributional databases. In: Stotz, D.F.; Fitzpatrick, J.W.; Parker, T.A.; Moskovits, D.K. (ed.), Neotropical bird ecology and conservation, pp. 113-436. University of Chicago Press, Chicago.

Parker, T. A.; Willis, E. O. 1997. Notes on three tiny grassland flycatchers, with comments on the disappearance of South American fire-diversified savannas. Ornithological Monographs 48: 549-555.

Silveira, L. F. 1998. The birds of Serra da Canastra National Park and adjacent areas, Minas Gerais, Brazil. Cotinga 10: 55-65.

Silveira, L. F.; Silveira, V. J. 1998. The biology of the Dwarf Tinamou Taoniscus nanus, with notes on its breeding in captivity. Cotinga: 42-46.

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

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.

Recuento detallado de la especie tomado del libro Aves Amenazadas de las Americas, Libro Rojo de BirdLife International (BirdLife International 1992). Nota: la taxonomo

Text account compilers
Symes, A., Capper, D., Clay, R., Symes, A., Sharpe, C J

del Castillo, H., Silveira, L., Mazar Barnett, J.

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

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2014) Species factsheet: Nothura minor. Downloaded from on 11/07/2014. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2014) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 11/07/2014.

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 Vulnerable
Family Tinamidae (Tinamous)
Species name author (Spix, 1825)
Population size 2500-9999 mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 3,000 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species