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Elfin-woods Warbler Dendroica angelae
BirdLife is updating this factsheet for the 2016 Red List
Please email us with any relevant information

This species is listed as Vulnerable because it has a very small range and, were data to show that it is declining in population or range, it would be uplisted to 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.

12.5 cm. A black-and-white warbler. Similar spp. Wintering Black-and-white Warbler Mniotilta varia, but distinguished by lack of broad white crown-stripe, and behaviour: D. angelae gleans from leaves and twigs whereas M. varia creeps along trunks and limbs of trees. Voice Song is a series of short, rapid notes ending with slightly lower series of double notes. Contact call similar to first part of song. Seldom gives short, metallic chip. Hints Hyperactive, accompanies mixed flocks.

Distribution and population
Dendroica angelae was only discovered in 1968 and is endemic to Puerto Rico (to USA) (Raffaele 1983). It was formerly considered to occur at four disjunct localities: in the east, the Sierra de Luquillo (El Yunque National Forest/Bosque Nacional del Caribe) and the Sierra de Cayey (Carite State Forest) and, in the west, the Cordillera Central (Maricao and Toro Negro Commonwealth Forests), but its existence at some of these sites has been questioned and it is now thought to be restricted to two widely separated locations: the Sierra de Luquillo and Maricao State Forest (Anadon-Irizarry 2006, Delannoy 2006). In optimal habitat it can be locally common, and although the population was previously thought to be no more than c.300 pairs (Curson et al. 1994), more accurate counts put the population at 1,830 individuals.

Population justification
The population is estimated to number at least 1,800 mature individuals, based on censuses conducted using playback methods. This is roughly equivalent to at least 2,700 individuals in total.

Trend justification
The species is thought perhaps to have declined owing to habitat degradation, but trends are unclear.

Although it inhabits elfin or montane dwarf forest on ridges and summits, montane wet forest, and sometimes ranges to lower-elevation wet forest, it reaches its highest densities in Podocarpus dominated forest (Cruz and Delannoy 1984, Raffaele et al. 1998, Delannoy 2006). Preferred areas have a dense canopy with vines, high subcanopy and sparse understorey (Curson et al. 1994, Raffaele et al. 1998). It shows a string preference for undisturbed forest, but has been recorded in secondary habitats and plantations (Cruz and Delannoy 1984). Breeding takes place in March-June, and the nest is built in aerial leaf-litter trapped in vegetation or vines, usually close to the trunk, or in a tree cavity (Curson et al. 1994, Raffaele et al. 1998, Rodriguez-Mojica 2004).

By the late 1940s, the natural vegetation of Puerto Rico had been reduced to c.6% of the island's land surface, but rapid regeneration of forest increased this figure to 31% in the early 1980s, a change which will probably benefit this species (Cruz and Delannoy 1984). However, Podocarpus dominated forest, which may be crucial to this species survival, makes up a tiny percentage of the total remaining forest and continues to destroyed by infrastructure projects, including tourism developments in protected areas (R. Rodriguez in litt. 2007). Natural disasters will continue to be a threat while the species's population and range remain so small.

Conservation Actions Underway
Both known areas area protected, and the species is probably secure as long as suitable habitat is maintained in these reserves (Cruz and Delannoy 1984). In July 2011 Sociedad Ornitológica Puertorriqueña (SOPI), in collaboration with BirdLife, started a project which aims to carry out surveys for the bird in the Carite Commonwealth Forest and surrounding, privately-owned, potential habitat to determine the presence of a potential third population (V. Anadon in litt. 2012).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Ensure the complete protection of the two sites where it persists. Assess the current distribution (especially by surveying away from known sites) and population. Research factors limiting range and population, and attempt to determine why it disappeared from parts of its former range. Protect private land where the species occurs through cooperative agreements with landowners (USFWS).

Anadón-Irizarry, V. 2006. Distribution, habitat occupancy and population density of the Elfin-woods Warbler (Dendroica angelae) in Puerto Rico. Thesis. MSc (Biology), University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez.

Cruz, A.; Delannoy, C. A. 1984. Ecology of the Elfin Woods Warbler Dendroica angelae, I. Distribution, habitat usage and population densities. Caribbean Journal of Science 20: 89-96.

Curson, J.; Quinn, D.; Beadle, D. 1994. New World warblers. A&C Black/Christopher Helm, London.

Delannoy, C. A. 2006. Distribution, abundance and description of habitats of the Elfin Woods Warbler, Dendroica angelae, in southwestern Puerto Rico. Technical Report to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Raffaele, H. A. 1983. A guide to the birds of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Fondo Educativo Interamericano, San Juan.

Raffaele, H.; Wiley, J.; Garrido, O.; Keith, A.; Raffaele, J. 1998. Birds of the West Indies. Christopher Helm, London.

Rodriguez-Mojica, R. 2004. First report of cavity-nesting in Elfin-woods Warbler Dendroica angelae at Maricao State Forest, Puerto Rico. Cotinga 22: 21-23.

Further web sources of information
Explore HBW Alive for further information on this species

Masters thesis

Search for photos and videos, and hear sounds of this species from the Internet Bird Collection

Text account compilers
Isherwood, I., Mahood, S., Pople, R., Sharpe, C J, Wege, D.

Rodriguez, R., Anadón, V., Delannoy, C., Colón-Merced, R.

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

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Dendroica angelae. 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 - Elfin-woods warbler (Dendroica angelae) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Vulnerable
Family Parulidae (New World warblers)
Species name author Kepler & Parkes, 1972
Population size 1800 mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 31 km2
Country endemic? Yes
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species