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Giant Conebill Oreomanes fraseri

This species is listed as Near Threatened, as it is suspected to be declining moderately rapidly owing to habitat loss and fragmentation throughout its range. Populations should be monitored carefully for any future changes in the rate of decline.

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.

Distribution and population
Oreomanes fraseri is rare and local within a relatively large range in the high Andes (Vuilleumier 1984, Ridgely and Tudor 1989, Fjeldså and Krabbe 1990) of south-west Colombia (Nariño [Hilty and Brown 1986], but perhaps extirpated), Ecuador (three sites in Azuay, Pichincha, and on the Pichincha/Napo border [Best et al. 1996]), Peru (Ancash south to Puno and Tacna [Clements 1998]) and west Bolivia (La Paz, Cochabamba and Potosí [Armonía 1995]), with recent records from north Chile (Howell and Webb 1995b) and Salta, Argentina (Mazar Barnett et al. 1998a).

Population justification
The global population size has not been quantified, but this species is described as uncommon and patchily distributed. Home range size averages between 6.13 ha and 7.15 ha.

Trend justification
Data on precise population trends are lacking, but this rare and habitat-restricted species is suspected to be in moderate decline owing to the on-going destruction of Polylepis woodlands throughout its range.

This species is restricted to Polylepis woodland, which is now highly fragmented (Ridgely and Tudor 1989). It occurs at 2,700-4,850 m [Clements in prep.], usually above the timberline, but is not numerous even in apparently optimal habitat (Ridgely and Tudor 1989). It is highly dependent on stands of Polylepis with dense canopies and tall trees, and may be limited to larger patches due to an avoidance of the dense foliage found in woodland edge habitats (Cahill et al. 2006, Cahill and Matthysen 2007). Nests are sited in the interior of forest fragments, and breeding takes place from October to December (Cahill et al. 2008).

Its decline is attributed to the destruction and fragmentation of Polylepis woodland as a result of uncontrolled use of fire, firewood collection, intense grazing (particularly by sheep and cattle), unsound agricultural techniques and afforestation with exotic tree species (especially Eucalyptus) (Fjeldså and Kessler 1996).

Conservation Actions Underway
Conservation Actions Proposed
Monitor populations at known sites and repeat surveys throughout the range to determine rates of range contraction and population decline. Campaign for the protection of remaining Polylepis woodlands, as well as appropriate reforestation programmes. Manage existing Polylepis woodlands by minimizing grazing and fire near fragments, controlling wood extraction and increasing the size of existing Polylepis fragments (Cahill and Matthysen 2007).

Armonía. 1995. Lista de las aves de Bolivia. Armonía, Santa Cruz de la Sierra.

Best, B. J.; Checker, M.; Thewlis, R. M.; Best, A. L.; Duckworth, W. 1996. New bird breeding data from southwestern Ecuador. Ornitologia Neotropical 7(1): 69-73.

Cahill, J. R. A.; Matthysen, E. 2007. Habitat use by two specialist birds in high-Andrean Polylepis forests. Biological Conservation 140(1-2): 62-69.

Cahill, J. R. A.; Matthysen, E.; Huanca, N. E. 2008. Nesting biology of the Giant Conebill (Oreomanes fraseri) in the high Andes of Bolivia. Wilson Journal of Ornithology 120(3): 545-549.

Cahill, J.; Matthysen, E.; Huanca, N. 2006. Habitat use and nest site selection in two near-threatened bird specialists of Polylepis forests in Andean South America. Journal of Ornithology 147(5): 104.

Clements, J. F. 1998. Report on a birding trip to the southern Andes of Peru.

de Coster, G.; Matthysen, E.; Cahill, J. R. A.; Lens, L. 2009. Home range characteristics of the near threatened Giant Conebill Oreomanes fraseri in fragmented Polylepsis forest. Bird Conservation International 19: 215-223.

Fjeldså, J.; Kessler, M. 1996. Conserving the biological diversity of Polylepis woodlands of the highland of Peru and Bolivia. NORDECO, Copenhagen.

Fjeldså, J.; Krabbe, N. 1990. Birds of the high Andes. Apollo Books, Copenhagen.

Herzog, S. K., Rodrigo, S. A., Troncoso, A. J., Mattysen, E. 2002. Composition and structure of avian mixed-species flocks in high-Andean Polylepis forest in Bolivia. Ecotropica 8: 133-143.

Hilty, S. L.; Brown, W. L. 1986. A guide to the birds of Colombia. Princeton University Press, Princeton.

Howell, S.; Webb, S. 1995. Noteworthy bird observations from Chile. Bulletin of the British Ornithologists' Club 115: 57-66.

Mazar Barnett, J.; Clark, R.; Bodrati, A.; Bodrati, G.; Pugnali, G.; della Seta, M. 1998. Natural history notes on some little-known birds in north-west Argentina. Cotinga: 64-75.

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

Stotz, D. F.; Fitzpatrick, J. W.; Parker, T. A.; Moskovits, D. K. 1996. Neotropical birds: ecology and conservation. University of Chicago Press, Chicago.

Vuilleumier, F. 1984. Patchy distribution and systematics of Oreomanes fraseri (Aves Coerebidae) of Andean Polylepis woodlands. American Museum Novitates 2777: 1-17.

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

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

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2014) Species factsheet: Oreomanes fraseri. Downloaded from on 18/04/2014. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2014) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 18/04/2014.

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.

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Near Threatened
Family Thraupidae (Tanagers)
Species name author Sclater, 1860
Population size Unknown mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 232,000 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species