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Cone-billed Tanager Conothraupis mesoleuca
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This species went undetected from 1938 to 2003, but was then rediscovered in gallery forest in Emas National Park, and has since also been found at several sites along the Alto Rio Juruena, and at Itiquira. Although the species's status remains very poorly known, it is likely to have a very small range, and an extremely small population, both of which are likely to be declining owing to habitat degradation. For these reasons this species is treated as Critically Endangered. Now its requirements are better understood, further searches may reveal that it is more widespread and common than was previously thought, in which case it may warrant downlisting in the future. Conversely, if the Alto Rio Juruena is confirmed as the global stronghold, planned hydroelectric developments could pose a massive threat to the continued survival of the species.

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

16 cm. Black-and-white tanager. Male is mostly black. White lower breast and belly, except for black sides of belly and crissum. Small, white bases to primaries. Stout, pointed all white bill (Buzzetti in litt. 2007). Female: Olive brown upperparts, paler olive brown breast, whitish-buffy lower breast and belly. Dull olive bill  (Buzzetti in litt. 2007). Similar spp. Similar in appearance to the allopatric Black-and-white tanager C. speculigera, but otherwise well distinct. Voice: The song consists of two groups of rapid musical notes, the second group slightly lower pitched, followed by a trill. This song may be repeated continuously and sounds like "tchi, tchi, tchi, tchi, tchi, tchirrrrrrrrrrr, tzarrrrrrrrrrr, zíiiiiiiiiiiiiii" (Buzzetti in litt. 2007).

Distribution and population
Until relatively recently, this species was known only from the type-specimen collected in 1938, c.400 km north-west of Cuiabá, Mato Grosso, Brazil. The type locality was thought to be in the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso, but it has proved very difficult to trace with certainty. In 2003, the species was rediscovered in gallery woodlands in Emas National Park, Goias, and since then there have been six sightings at four different locations in the park (Buzzetti and Carlos 2005, D. Buzzetti in litt. 2005). The total suitable area that may be able to support the species at Emas National Park has been estimated at a maximum of 1,500 km(D. Buzzetti in litt. 2007). In 2006 another population, estimated to number perhaps up to 100 individuals (at least 40 birds were recorded), was found 900 km away along the Alto Rio Juruena, Mato Grosso (P. Develey in litt. 2007, Candia-Gallardo et al. 2010). One of the sites surveyed in this area, Juruena Telegraph Station, where the species was recorded in 2007, may be the type locality (Candia-Gallardo et al. 2010). It is now known from Emas National Park, the basin of the Upper Juruena in Mato Grosso (Sapezal, Julio Campos, Campo Novo do Parecis and Rio Claro municipalities) and Itiquira in southeastern Mato Grosso (WikiAves 2013). The species is probably rare, having avoided detection for so long, but new information on its identification and vocalisations may help to aid the discovery of other extant populations.

Population justification
The population is assumed to be very small as the species avoided detection for so long. In Emas National Park it is now known from six sightings at four different locations; given that c. 1,500 km2 of suitable habitat exists within Emas, it is unlikely that the population is below 50 individuals. In Alto Rio Juruena, Mato Grosso, the population may number perhaps up to 100 individuals (P. Develey in litt. 2007). Total numbers are precautionarily estimated at 50-249 mature individuals, but further fieldwork may well show that there are more than this. This estimate equates to 75-374 individuals in total, rounded here to 70-400 individuals.

Trend justification
Although very poorly known, outside of the protected areas in which it occurs this species's population is suspected to be decreasing owing to declines in habitat quality. The likely rate of decline, however, has not been estimated.

The type-specimen was taken amidst bushy vegetation in dry forest in the transitional zone between Amazonian rainforest and central Brazilian cerradão (closed-canopy cerrado). The closely related Black-and-white Tanager C. speculigera is rather nomadic, and this species could have similar tendencies. Evidence from Emas National Park suggests Cone-billed Tanager favours gallery forest and is strongly associated with water (Buzzetti in litt. 2007). Observations of the Alto Rio Juruena population strongly suggest that the species is associated with permanently or seasonally flooded areas of forest or grassland near rivers, and that it generally avoids unflooded cerrado savanna and gallery forest (Candia-Gallardo et al. 2010). The species appears to be territorial and perhaps monogamous, and it has been observed sallying for small flying insects and feeding on seeds, including those of bamboo and exotic grasses (Candia-Gallardo et al. 2010).

The rarity of this species suggests that some unknown factors have affected its status. At least until recently, there appears to have been extensive areas of the various possible habitats. The rediscovered population is in gallery forest, and if dependent on this habitat it is likely to have suffered from clearance and degradation through agricultural expansion and mechanisation in the region. The spread of soya cultivation in particular poses a serious threat outside Emas National Park (Buzzetti in litt. 2007). If the species does indeed rely on flooded riverside habitats, its population may be naturally fragmented owing to the fragmented and linear nature of suitable areas; however, in this case habitat loss would be a major threat (Candia-Gallardo et al. 2010). An impending hydroelectric project planned for Bacia do Alto Juruena and involving the construction of five hydroelectric plants will flood the Juruena river area, which appears to be the global stronghold for the species.

Conservation Actions Underway
The species is only known from Emas National Park, located between the states of Goiás and Mato Grosso do Sul in the Center-West Region of Brazil, along the Alto Rio Juruena and at Itiquira, Mato Grosso. Emas is reportedly well protected and does not face immediate threats from the surrounding human population (Buzzetti in litt. 2007). It is illegal to clear gallery forest in Brazil but this regulation is poorly enforced on many private lands. A proposal has been submitted to survey the Cone-billed Tanager population in detail in the Bacia do Alto Juruena area, mapping its range, habitat usage and the extent of damage a planned hydroelectric project will have on the species. Surveys were also due to take place in the Noel Kempff Mercado National Park in Bolivia in September 2008 (B. Hennessey in litt. 2008). Conservation Actions Proposed
Research the status, distribution, ecology and habitat requirements of the species in the Emas National Park and Alto Rio Juruena. Survey using tape-recordings of the song in remnant cerrado woodland and gallery forest in other areas, especially in the Iquê-Juruena Ecological Station, Serra das Araras Ecological Station, Noel Kempff Mercado National Park and elsewhere between Emas and eastern Bolivia. Conduct surveys in deciduous and semi-deciduous woodland, including those in Mato Grosso do Sul and northern Mato Grosso, including Serra de Ricardo Franco. Increase the area of suitable habitat that has protected status, particularly in the upper Juruena basin (Candia-Gallardo et al. 2010). Lobby against the proposed hydroelectric project.

Related state of the world's birds case studies

Buzzetti, D.; Carlos, B. A. 2005. A redescoberta do tiê-bicundo (Conothraupis mesoleuca) (Berlioz, 1939). Atualidades Ornitológicas 127: 4-5.

Candia-Gallardo, C. E.; Silveira, L. F.; Kuniy, A. A. 2010. A new population of the Cone-billed Tanager Conothraupis mesoleuca, with information on the biology, behaviour and type locality of the species. Bird Conservation International 20(2): 149-160.

Collar, N. J.; Gonzaga, L. P.; Krabbe, N.; Madroño Nieto, A.; Naranjo, L. G.; Parker, T. A.; Wege, D. C. 1992. Threatened birds of the Americas: the ICBP/IUCN Red Data Book. International Council for Bird Preservation, Cambridge, U.K.

WikiAves. 2013. Tiê-bicudo. Available at: (Accessed: 01/10/2013).

Further web sources of information
Detailed species account from the Threatened birds of the Americas: the BirdLife International Red Data Book (BirdLife International 1992). Please note taxonomic treatment and IUCN Red List category may have changed since publication.

Detailed species account from the Threatened birds of the Americas: the BirdLife International Red Data Book (BirdLife International 1992). Please note, taxonomic treatment and IUCN Red List category may have changed since publication.

Explore HBW Alive for further information on this species

Recuento detallado de la especie tomado del libro Aves Amenazadas de las Americas, Libro Rojo de BirdLife International (BirdLife International 1992). Nota: la taxonomoía y la categoría de la Lista Roja de la UICN pudo haber cambiado desde esta publicación.

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

Text account compilers
Bird, J., Butchart, S., Capper, D., Pople, R., Sharpe, C J, Symes, A., Taylor, J. & Temple, H.

Buzzetti, D., Develey, P., Hennessey, A., Whitney, B., Carlos, B. & Candia-Gallardo, C.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Conothraupis mesoleuca. Downloaded from on 21/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 21/10/2016.

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 - Cone-billed tanager (Conothraupis mesoleuca) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Critically Endangered
Family Thraupidae (Tanagers)
Species name author (Berlioz, 1939)
Population size 50-249 mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 1,500 km2
Country endemic? Yes
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species