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San Cristobal Mockingbird Mimus melanotis
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This species is classified as Endangered because it is likely to be declining within its very small range on a single island, as a result of habitat degradation and the impact of alien invasive species.

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

Taxonomic note
The genus Nesomimus has been subsumed into the genus Mimus following SACC (2007).

Mimus melanotis BirdLife International (2004)

25-26cm. Large mimid, greyish-brown above and pale below, with prominent black lores and blackish ear patch. Sexes similar, female c. 10% smaller than male in linear measurements. Juvenile is more streaked below than adult. Voice Loud, melodious and disjointed territorial song, typical of other members of its genus.

Distribution and population
Mimus melanotis is endemic to the island of San Cristóbal in the central Galápagos islands, Ecuador (Sibley and Monroe 1990). Its population has recently been estimated at c.8,000 individuals, on the basis that it occupies c.25% of the 552 km2 area of the island, with occupied areas holding approximately 0.6 birds/ha (R. Curry in litt. 2005).

Population justification
R. Curry (in litt. 2005) estimated that this species occupies c.25% of the 552 km2 area of San Cristobal, i.e. 138 km2. The density of birds in occupied habitat is 0.6 birds / ha, giving a total population size estimate of 8,280 birds, perhaps best rounded to c.8,000 individuals. This roughly equates to c.5,300 mature individuals. However, the population may be significantly smaller than this (D. Wiedenfeld in litt. 2012).

Trend justification
Despite a lack of new data on population size or trend, the threats facing the population remain unchanged, suggesting that slow to moderate declines may be continuing.

It occupies a wide range of habitats from lowlands up to the island summit at 715 m, including arid open lowland scrub, mangroves, scrubby woodland with scattered trees (Bursera spp.) and arborescent cacti (Opuntia spp.), low woodlands of introduced guava (Psidium guajava) and taller patches of forest. It tends to avoid dense lowland forest, taller, wetter woodland, grassland and urban areas (Cody 2005). The species forages on the ground for arthropods, also taking fruit and berries and occasionally picking ticks (Acarina) off marine iguanas (Amblyrhynchus spp.). It breeds in January to April, apparently not cooperatively, in contrast to other Nesomimus spp. (Cody 2005).

Several threats are suspected to be causing population decline, including introduced species (diseases, parasites and predators), habitat degradation, and human disturbance (Vargas 1996, Wiedenfeld and Jiménez 2008, R. Curry in litt. 2005, H. Vargas in litt. 2005, A. Tye in litt. 2005, D. Wiedenfeld in litt. 2005). The presence of the Dipterid nestling parasite Philornis downsi is likely a significant threat (Wiedenfeld et al. 2007). A number of disease vectors have been introduced, including Culex quinquefasciatus (vector of avian malaria) and Simulium bipunctatus (Peck et al. 1998Vargas and Bensted-Smith 2000, Whiteman et al. 2005), and chickens in the growing number of chicken farms have brought in new diseases and may act as intermediary hosts (Gottdenker et al. 2005). The incidence of parasites and diseases could be more important in the future with the increase in frequency and intensity of El Niño events and the more humid conditions in the islands (H. Vargas in litt. 2005, Wiedenfeld et al. 2007). Habitat loss and degradation is caused by invasive introduced plants (P. guajava, Eugenia jambos, Rubus niveus) (Vargas 1996), overgrazing by goats, and increased human settlement. Black rats and feral cats have been introduced and are thought to be responsible for high nest predation rates (Curry 1989). The relative importance and impacts of these different threats are not yet known.

Conservation Actions Underway
The Galápagos National Park was gazetted in 1959, and includes almost all the land area of the islands. In 1979, the islands were declared a World Heritage Site (Jackson 1985). Conservation Actions Proposed
Monitor population to determine trends. Research relative importance of different threats in order to identify effective conservation actions. Research into methods of control or eradication of the parasite Philornis downsi (D. Wiedenfeld in litt. 2012). Avoid further introduction of alien species. Establish a captive breeding population for future reintroductions and population supplementation.

Cody, M. L. 2004. Family Mimidae (Mockingbirds and Thrashers). In: del Hoyo, J.; Elliott, A.; Christie, D.A. (ed.), Handbook of birds of the world, pp. 448-495. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.

Collar, N. J.; Butchart, S. H. M. 2013. Conservation breeding and avian diversity: chances and challenges. International Zoo Yearbook.

Curry, R. L. 1989. Geographic variation in social organization of Galapagos mockingbirds: ecological correlates of group territoriality and co-operative breeding. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 25: 147-160.

Gottdenker, N. L.; Walsh, T.; Vargas, H.; Merkel, J.; Jimenez, G. U.; Miller, R.E.; Dailey, M.; Parker, P. G. 2005. Assessing the risks of introduced chickens and their pathogens to native birds in the Galapagos Archipelago. Biological Conservation 126: 429-439.

Jackson, M. H. 1985. Galapagos: a natural history guide. Calgary University Press, Calgary, Canada.

Peck, S. B.; Heraty, J.; Landry, B.; Sinclair, B. J. 1998. Introduced insect fauna of an oceanic archipelago: the Galápagos Islands, Ecuador. American Entomologist 44: 218-237.

Sibley, C. G.; Monroe, B. L. 1990. Distribution and taxonomy of birds of the world. Yale University Press, New Haven, USA.

Vargas, H. 1996. What is happening with the avifauna of Sab Cristobal? Notícias de Galápagos: 23-24.

Vargas, H.; Bensted-Smith, R. 2000. Past and present ornithology in Galápagos. In: Sitwell, N.; Baert, L.; Cuppois, G. (ed.), Proceedings of the Symposium: Science and Conservation in Galápagos, pp. 47-52. l'Institut Royal des Siences Naturelles de Belgique, Brussels.

Whiteman, N. K.; Goodman, S.J.; Sinclair, B.J.; Walsh, T.; Cunningham, A. A.; Kramer, L.D.; Parker, P. G. 2005. Establishment of the avian disease vector Culex quinquefasciatus Say, 1823 (Diptera: Culicidae) on Galápagos Islands, Ecuador. Ibis 147: 844-847.

Wiedenfeld, D. A.; Jiménez, G. A.; Fessl, B.; Kleindorfer, S.; Valerezo, J. C. 2007. Distribution of the introduced parasitic fly Philornis downsi (Diptera, Muscidae) in the Galapagos Islands. Pacific Conservation Biology 13: 14-19.

Wiedenfeld, D. A.; Jiménez-Uzcátegui, G. A. 2008. Critical problems for bird conservation in the Galápagos Islands. Cotinga: 22-27.

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.

Click here for more information about the Alliance for Zero Extinction (AZE)

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., Gilroy, J., Harding, M., Sharpe, C J, Temple, H.

Curry, R., Tye, A., Vargas, H., Wiedenfeld, D.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Mimus melanotis. Downloaded from on 24/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 24/10/2016.

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 - San Cristobal mockingbird (Mimus melanotis) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Endangered
Family Mimidae (Mockingbirds and thrashers)
Species name author (Gould, 1837)
Population size 5300 mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 1,100 km2
Country endemic? Yes
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species