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Santa Marta Warbler Basileuterus basilicus

This species is listed as Vulnerable because its range is estimated to be small, fragmented and declining owing to ongoing deforestation of its montane forest habitat. Its population size is unknown, but if future surveys reveal large and stable populations in high montane habitats that are less threatened by deforestation, it could qualify for downlisting to Near threatened.

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.

14 cm. Spectacularly marked warbler. Olive-green above and yellow below, with a bold black-and-white head pattern. Unmistakeable and easily the most distinctive member of its genus. Voice Call is a short, weak trill. The song remains undocumented.

Distribution and population
Basileuterus basilicus occurs in a fragmented habitat in montane areas in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, north Colombia, where its abundance varies between sites from rare to locally common (Ridgely and Tudor 1989, Renjifo et al. 2002).

Population justification
The population is estimated to number 1,000-2,499 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 667-1,666 mature individuals, rounded here to 600-1,700 mature individuals.

Trend justification
Despite a lack of recent data on the status of this species, rapid population decreases are suspected to be on-going, owing to the continuing degradation of habitats throughout its range.

It inhabits the understorey and borders of stunted, humid montane forest and secondary woodland (Ridgely and Tudor 1989), frequently alongside small mountain streams and ravines (Renjifo et al. 2002), as well as in scrubby chaparral above the treeline (C. Downing in litt. 2007). It is also strongly associated with dense stands of Chusquea bamboo (Ridgely and Tudor 1989). All records are from 2,100 to 3,000 m, with the majority above 2,300 m (Curson et al. 1994, Renjifo et al. 2002). It is apparently able to tolerate moderate degradation of its habitat (Renjifo et al. 2002).

Despite possibly tolerating some habitat degradation, it is threatened by extensive deforestation, and has lost 21% of its habitat (Renjifo et al. 2002). The principal causes of deforestation are the development of cattle ranches and Pinus plantations, for example at La Cuchilla de San Lorenzo (Renjifo et al. 2002). Illegal agricultural expansion, logging and burning (Dinerstein et al. 1995,  Renjifo et al. 2002) have altered all but 15% of the sierra's original vegetation (Stattersfield et al. 1998, Renjifo et al. 2002). The north slope of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta is the most degraded area, and this area corresponds to where the majority of birds are found. Although this species is found in two protected areas, this has not prevented extensive and continuing deforestation (Renjifo et al. 2002). Populations may also persist above the treeline in scrubby habitats, suggesting that the species may show a degree of resilience to deforestation (C. Downing in litt. 2007).

Conservation Actions Underway
It occurs within Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta National Park. Conservation Actions Proposed
Conduct surveys to establish the state of the population and its ecological requirements (Renjifo et al. 2002). Develop a management and conservation strategy for the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, particularly for montane forests (Renjifo et al. 2002).

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

Dinerstein, E.; Olson, D. M.; Graham, D. J.; Webster, A. L.; Primm, S. A.; Bookbinder, M. P.; Ledec, G. 1995. A conservation assesssment of the terrestrial ecoregions of Latin America and the Caribbean. World Bank, Washington, D.C.

Renjifo, L. M.; Franco-Maya, A. M.; Amaya-Espinel, J. D.; Kattan, G. H.; López-Lans, B. 2002. Libro rojo de aves de Colombia. Instituto de Investigación de Recursos Biológicos Alexander von Humboldt y Ministerio del Medio Ambiente, Bogot, Colombia.

Ridgely, R. S.; Tudor, G. 1989. The birds of South America. University of Texas Press, Austin, Texas.

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.

Text account compilers
Benstead, P., Gilroy, J., O'Brien, A., Sharpe, C J

Downing, C.

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

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2014) Species factsheet: Basileuterus basilicus. Downloaded from on 19/04/2014. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2014) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 19/04/2014.

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.

Additional resources for this species

ARKive species - Santa Marta warbler (Basileuterus basilicus) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Vulnerable
Family Parulidae (New World warblers)
Species name author (Todd, 1913)
Population size 600-1700 mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 4,540 km2
Country endemic? Yes
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species