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Cozumel Thrasher Toxostoma guttatum
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This formerly common species appears to have declined rapidly following a hurricane in 1988, with very few subsequent records, despite repeated surveys since then. Any remaining population is likely to be tiny, and for these reasons it is treated as Critically Endangered.

Taxonomic source(s)
AOU. 1998. Check-list of North American birds. American Ornithologists' Union, Washington, D.C.
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.

23 cm. Brown-and-white bird with long, decurved bill. Rich chestnut-brown above with two white wing-bars. Greyish face with paler supercilium. White underparts heavily streaked black. Black bill and legs. Voice Complex scratchy warbling.

Distribution and population
This species is endemic to Cozumel Island, Mexico, where it was formerly fairly common to common (AOU 1998). It became rare immediately after Hurricane Gilbert in September 1988, Howell and Webb 1995a, S. N. G. Howell in litt. 1998, Macouzet and Escalante Pliego 2001), with only four records obtained during monthly visits to the island during August 1994-August 1995 (Macouzet and Escalante Pliego 2001). Only a few sightings were been recorded after Hurricane Roxanne in 1995, the most recent being four observations of what is presumed to have been the same individual during extensive surveys in 2004 and a record from a different site during the same year (Curry et al. 2006). There remains only one possible sighting made in 2006 since two further devastating hurricanes hit the island in 2005 (P. Salaman in litt. 2007).

Population justification
Any remaining population is assumed to be tiny (numbering fewer than 50 individuals and mature individuals), given the low number of records during the past decade.

Trend justification
The species is suspected to have declined extremely rapidly around the time of Hurricane Gilbert in 1988. Since 1994-1995, when just four records were obtained from monthly survey visits, it has apparently had a tiny population which has remained so and may have continued to decline. The population is suspected to have experienced a 1-19% decline over the last ten years.

Recent records originate from semi-deciduous forest and deciduous forest away from scrubby areas (Macouzet and Escalante Pliego 2001). However, it was formerly reported to inhabit scrubby woodland and thick undergrowth bordering fields (Howell and Webb 1995a), and the edges of tropical deciduous and semi-deciduous forest (Howell and Webb 1995a, S. N. G. Howell in litt. 1998). It is typically known to skulk on or near the ground, but often sings from conspicuous perches (Howell and Webb 1995a). The breeding season is May-July (S. N. G. Howell in litt. 1998).

Hurricane Gilbert appears to have had a severe effect on the species, whose status may have deteriorated further following Hurricane Roxanne in 1995, and Hurricanes Emily and Wilma in 2005 (Macouzet and Escalante Pliego 2001, Curry et al. 2006). Further hurricanes are likely because Cozumel lies within the area of Mexico most frequently hit by hurricanes (Stattersfield et al. 1998), and may extirpate any surviving, small populations. However, this seems an unsatisfactory explanation of its current rarity because it must have evolved with a relatively high hurricane frequency. The reasons behind its decline are poorly understood, but boa constrictors introduced in 1971 and introduced cats are the leading hypothesised threat (Curry et al. 2006). Having a distribution on a relatively low-lying island, this species is potentially susceptible to climate change through sea-level rise and shifts in suitable climatic conditions (BirdLife International unpublished data).

Conservation Actions Underway
There have been several recent searches for the species (S. N. G. Howell in litt. 1998, D. Brewer in litt. 1999, Macouzet and Escalante Pliego 2001), and efforts are ongoing to determine the remnant population size and distribution, and to evaluate the threats and reasons behind its decline (Curry and Martínez-Gómez 2005). Conservation Actions Proposed
Urgently survey in the breeding season (when it is most conspicuous) to determine whether the species is still extant and identify appropriate conservation measures. Investigate its former status and ecology through interviews with local people to ascertain the reasons for its decline. Conduct an awareness raising campaign to raise the profile of this species and educate visitors about the potential to damage the island's ecosystem (Curry and Martínez-Gómez 2005). Establish formal protection for interior lands on Cozumel (Curry and Martínez-Gómez 2005).

Related state of the world's birds case studies

AOU. 1998. Check-list of North American birds. American Ornithologists' Union, Washington, D.C.

Curry, R. L.; Martínez-Gómez, J. E.; Hernández-Molina, E.; Chacón-Diaz, A. R. 2006. Conservation status of the critically endangered Cozumel Thrasher in relation to that of Cozumel's other endemic birds. Wings without borders: IV North American Ornithological Conference, October 3-7, 2006, Veracruz, Mexico, pp. 75. American Ornithologists' Union, Waco, TX, USA.

Curry, R. L.; Martínez-Gómez, J.E. 2005. Status and conservation of the Cozumel Thrasher (Toxostoma guttatum).

Howell, S. N. G.; Webb, S. 1995. A guide to the birds of Mexico and northern Central America. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Macouzet, T.; Escalante Pliego, P. 2001. Registros del Cuitlacoche de Cozumel Toxostoma guttatum posteriores al Huracán Gilberto. Cotinga 15: 32-33.

Stattersfield, A. J.; Crosby, M. J.; Long, A. J.; Wege, D. C. 1998. Endemic bird areas of the world: priorities for bird conservation. BirdLife International, Cambridge, U.K.

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
Bird, J., Calvert, R., Capper, D., Isherwood, I., Pople, R., Sharpe, C J & Symes, A.

Brewer, D., Howell, S., Salaman, P. & Sweet, P.

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

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Toxostoma guttatum. Downloaded from on 26/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 26/10/2016.

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 - Cozumel thrasher (Toxostoma guttatum) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Critically Endangered
Family Mimidae (Mockingbirds and thrashers)
Species name author (Ridgway, 1885)
Population size 1-49 mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 25 km2
Country endemic? Yes
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species