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Black-cheeked Ant-tanager Habia atrimaxillaris
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This species is classified as Endangered because of its small range which is mostly confined to two protected areas. The large reduction in habitat indicates that there are ongoing declines in range and population area.

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.

Taxonomic note
The genera Piranga, Habia and Chlorothraupis were formerly placed in Thraupidae but have been moved to Cardinalidae following AOU (2009).

18-19 cm. Head mostly blackish with contrasting salmon throat. Dark red iris. Black bill and dark horn legs. Male has bright salmon-orange but partially concealed central crown-patch. Otherwise black head and dark grey upperparts tinged reddish. Blackish wings and tail. Dusky red on breast. Female duller with smaller crown-patch. Immature even duller, more brownish and lacks crown-patch. Similar spp. Female Rosy Thrush-tanager Rhodinocichla rosea is more extensively reddish below and has bicoloured eyebrow. Voice Scolding, paper-tearing noise. Harsh zurzurzurzurzur. Chak grunts and chek or chuk contact calls. Mellow, whistled dawn song with 6-11 phrases, often ending with a single chonk.

Distribution and population
Habia atrimaxillaris has a highly restricted range on the Osa Peninsula and around the Golfo Dulce in south-west Costa Rica. This range has approximately halved since 1960, and it has become increasingly scarce in the fragmented habitat outside Corcovado National Park and Golfito Faunal Refuge. However, populations appear stable in these protected areas (G. Stiles in litt. 1999), and it remains common in Corcovado (Capper et al. 1998).

Population justification
The population is estimated to number 10,000-19,999 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 6,667-13,333 mature individuals, rounded here to 6,000-15,000 mature individuals.

Trend justification
There are no new data on population trends, but the species is suspected to be in slow decline owing to habitat loss and degradation.

It inhabits the understorey of dense lowland forest, advanced secondary growth, streamside woodland, and occasionally selectively logged forest, palm trees and beach-front scrub (Capper et al. 1998, Slud 1964, Stiles and Skutch 1989). It occurs in pairs or small family groups, sometimes accompanying mixed-species flocks (Stiles and Skutch 1989). It feeds primarily on insects and probably other arthropods, but also on melastome berries (Slud 1964, Stiles and Skutch 1989).Breeding takes place from mid-January to May and nesting at a mature secondary forest site is described by Sandoval and Gallo (2009).

The vast majority of the forest to the north and east of the Golfo Dulce has been logged (G. Stiles in litt. 1999), and habitat loss is continuing outside protected areas.

Conservation Actions Underway
Corcovado National Park is a very important site for this species (Wege and Long 1995, Capper et al. 1998). The Golfito Faunal Refuge also holds a significant population (G. Stiles in litt. 1999), but the habitat is disturbed and fragmented (Wege and Long 1995). Conservation Actions Proposed
Survey the Golfito Faunal Reserve to determine the status of this species (Wege and Long 1995).  Protect any remaining habitat outside existing protected areas.  Establish a captive breeding population to support future reintroduction and supplementation efforts.

Capper, D. R.; Clay, R. P.; Lowen, J. C. 1998. Recent sightings of threatened birds around Corcovado National Park, Costa Rica. Cotinga 10: 102.

Collar, N. J.; Butchart, S. H. M. 2013. Conservation breeding and avian diversity: chances and challenges. International Zoo Yearbook.

Sandoval, L.; Gallo, A. 2009. Description of the nest and eggs of the Black-cheeked Ant Tanager (Habia atrimaxillaris). Wilson Journal of Ornithology 121(3): 635-637.

Slud, P. 1964. The birds of Costa Rica: distribution and ecology. Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History 128: 1-446.

Stiles, F.G. and Skutch, A.F. 1989. A Guide to the Birds of Costa Rica. Cornell University Press, Ithaca, NY.

Wege, D. C.; Long, A. J. 1995. Key Areas for threatened birds in the Neotropics. 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

View 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

Stiles, F.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Habia atrimaxillaris. Downloaded from on 23/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 23/10/2016.

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 - Black-cheeked ant-tanager (Habia atrimaxillaris) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Endangered
Family Cardinalidae (Grosbeaks, saltators and allies)
Species name author (Dwight & Griscom, 1924)
Population size 6000-15000 mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 1,000 km2
Country endemic? Yes
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species