email a friend
printable version
Dwarf Tinamou Taoniscus nanus
BirdLife is updating this factsheet for the 2016 Red List
Please email us with any relevant information

A rapid and on-going population decline is suspected on the basis of rapid rates of loss and degradation of cerrado habitat, qualifying this species as Vulnerable. Although it may now largely be restricted to protected areas, these are not considered safe owing to frequent damaging fires and the increasing threat of conversion for Eucalyptus plantations and soya crops.

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: #

13-16 cm. Plump, but minute, short-legged tinamou. Generally pale buffy-brown with some barring and streaking. Dark centre of crown. Breast and sides of belly pale buff with irregular dark barring. Pale throat, buffy centre of belly. Different plumage morphs may occur. Similar spp. Lesser Nothura Nothura minor is larger, longer-necked and more heavily barred. Voice High-pitched and nasal, cricket-like trill followed by peet notes.

Distribution and population
This species is currently restricted to the cerrado (tropical savanna) of central and south-east Brazil in Distrito Federal, Goiás, Minas Gerais, Mato Grosso do Sul, Tocantins, São Paulo and formerly Paraná (L. F. Silveira in litt. 2012). In 2008, it was found in relatively degraded but extensive cerrado south of Araguainha, Mato Grosso (Kirwan 2009). A specimen is known from Misiones, Paraguay, and two were taken in Argentina in the early 1900s (M. Pearman in litt. 1999), from near the río Bermejo in either Chaco or Formosa, but there have been no further records from the country. Recent records are few and scattered, but up to four calling birds have been found in c.2 ha (Silveira and Silveira 1998) and, with knowledge of its voice, it may prove to be more widespread; however, it is now probably largely restricted to a few widely-spaced protected areas (L. F. Silveira in litt. 2012, A. Lees in litt. 2013), and isolated populations may now be vulnerable to local extinction – in São Paulo state the species may have been lost from Itapetininga (F. Olmos in litt. 2013).

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
A rapid and on-going population decline is suspected on the basis of rapid rates of habitat loss and degradation.

It inhabits campo sujo (shrubby fields) and campo limpo (clean grass fields) with scattered shrubs (Silveira and Silveira 1998). The specimens from Paraguay and Argentina were collected in scrub grasslands (M. Pearman in litt. 1999). It has been reported taking invertebrate prey, including termites, and feeding on Graminae seeds. A pair in captivity laid three eggs (Silveira and Silveira 1998).

High-quality cerrado grasslands are being rapidly destroyed by mechanised agriculture, intensive cattle-ranching, afforestation, invasive grasses, excessive use of pesticides and annual burning (Stotz et al. 1996, Parker and Willis 1997). By 1993, two-thirds of the cerrado had been heavily or moderately altered (Conservation International 1999), with most of the destruction having occurred since 1950 (Cavalcanti 1999). Since the species can only cover c.50 m in flight (Silveira and Silveira 1998), it is presumably susceptible to fast-moving fires, and is unlikely to disperse between isolated habitat fragments. Catastrophic fires are common in protected areas such as Serra da Canastra and Emas (F. Olmos in litt. 2013). Large areas of potentially suitable habitat remain in eastern Tocantins, however fires are a serious threat here, while Eucalyptus plantations are increasing and are expected to cover more than 1 million ha in the region, converted from agriculture and natural habitat. Expansion of soy and cane sugar crops are further potential threats (T. Dornas in litt. 2013), and even protected areas are likely to be coming under increasing threat from habitat conversion (T. Dornas, A. Lees, A. de Luca and F. Olmos in litt. 2013).

Conservation Actions Underway
It is known from a number of protected areas (L. F. Silveira in litt. 2012), including Serra da Canastra, Chapada dos Veadeiros and Emas National Parks, Itapetininga Experimental Station, and the IBGE Roncador Biological Reserve. Several areas adjacent to the río Bermejo, Argentina, have been surveyed with the aid of tape-playback, but the species has not been found (J. C. Chebez in litt. 1999, J. Mazar Barnett in litt. 1999).Conservation Actions Proposed
Conduct further surveys in Argentina and Paraguay in the areas where it was collected (M. Pearman in litt. 1999). Assess abundance in protected areas. Assess precise ecological requirements. Determine best management practices for existing protected areas. Control the burning of cerrado habitats (Machado et al. 1998). Consider captive breeding and reintroduction at suitable sites (L. F. Silveira in litt. 2012).

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.

Kirwan, G. 2009. Report on a search for the Hooded Seedeater Sporophila melanops, with some remarks on its validity. Unpublished report to BirdLife International.

Machado, A. B. M.; da Fonseca, G. A. B.; Machado, R. B.; Aguiar, L. M. De S.; Lins, L. V. 1998. Livro Vermelho: das espécies ameaçadas de extinça1o da fauna de Minas Gerais. Fundaça1o Biodiversitas, Belo Horizonte.

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.; 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.

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
Clay, R., Sharpe, C J, Symes, A. & Khwaja, N.

Chebez, J., Mazar Barnett, J., Pearman, M., Silveira, L., Develey, P., Dornas, T., Lees, A., Olmos, F. & De Luca, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Taoniscus nanus. 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 Vulnerable
Family Tinamidae (Tinamous)
Species name author (Temminck, 1815)
Population size 2500-9999 mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 832,000 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species