email a friend
printable version
Alagoas Antwren Myrmotherula snowi
BirdLife is updating this factsheet for the 2016 Red List
Please email us with any relevant information
BirdLife Species Champion Become a BirdLife Preventing Extinctions Programme Supporter
BirdLife Species Guardian SAVE Brasil
For information about BirdLife Species Champions and Species Guardians visit the BirdLife Preventing Extinctions Programme.

This species is listed as Critically Endangered because it is thought to have an extremely small population, which occupies a very restricted range in which habitat is extremely limited, severely fragmented and rapidly declining in quality, extent and area. Further conservation actions are required as a matter of urgency if this species is to survive.

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

Taxonomic note
Myrmotherula unicolor (Sibley and Monroe 1990, 1993) has been split into M. unicolor and M. snowi following SACC (2006). Note that snowi was described as a new subspecies of M. unicolor by Teixeira and Gonzaga (1985).

9.5 cm. Small, uniform antwren. Male entirely grey, slightly paler below with inconspicuous small black patch on throat. Female entirely fulvous-brown above, russet tail. Rufous-buff underparts with white throat. Similar spp. Very similar to Unicoloured Antwren M. unicolor, but not sympatric and has shorter tail and longer bill, and female is more rufescent below. Voice Song is series of 3-6 downslurred, clear-whistled syllables. A kleek contact call and nyiih-nyeeh-nyaah alarm call have been described.

Distribution and population
Myrmotherula snowi has only ever been recorded in Alagoas and Pernambuco states, north-east Brazil (Collar et al. 1992). It was first discovered at Murici (Alagoas) in 1979, when an adult male and two adult females were collected. An additional juvenile male was collected in 1984, and subsequent records throughout the 1990s, in 2000 and in 2009 have only found the species in very small numbers (Whitney and Pacheco 1995, Whitney and Pacheco 1997, J. M. Goerck in litt. 1999, 2000, A. Whittaker in litt. 1999, F. Olmos in litt. 2002). Recently, it has also been discovered in Pernambuco at Mata do Benedito (Roda in litt. 2007, Roda et al. 2009), Mata do Estado (F. Olmos in litt. 2002, Roda et al. 2003). Frei Caneca (Anon 2003) and São Vicente Férrer (Roda et al. 2009). Although it has not yet been found in Pedra Dantes, the 360-ha forest patch adjacent to Frei Caneca, recently purchased by BirdLife/SAVE Brasil, it is expected to occur there (P. Develey in litt. 2007, Roda in litt. 2007). Despite extensive playback searches, new sites for this species have not been found (Pereira et al. 2014). Remaining habitat is very limited and severely fragmented.

Population justification
It is thought that less than 30 individuals persist (Pereira et al. 2014). It is therefore placed in the band 1-49 mature individuals.

Trend justification
This species is suspected to be declining very rapidly owing to the on-going and rapid loss of remaining forest habitat.

It forages in pairs and small mixed-species flocks in the middle strata of upland semi-humid forest at 400-550 m (Roda et al. 2003). Birds range from 1.5 to 9 m above ground, keeping mostly at 5-8 m (Whitney and Pacheco 1997). Foraging flocks reportedly include White-flanked Antwren M. axillaris and a variety of other formicariids, although observers at Mata do Estado failed to locate it in mixed flocks (Roda et al. 2003). The diet consists of arthropods, including spiders, beetles, ants and cockroaches. Breeding probably occurs in February, and juveniles have been recorded in May.

Forest at Murici has been reduced from 70 km2 in the 1970s to 30 km2 of highly disturbed and fragmented habitat in 1999 (J. M. Goerck in litt. 1999, 2000), largely as a result of logging and conversion to sugarcane plantations and pastureland. In January 1999, new logging roads were evident and such forest fragments are severely threatened by fires spreading from adjacent plantations (J. M. Goerck in litt. 1999, 2000; A. Whittaker in litt. 1999). The Frei Caneca private reserve and BirdLife/SAVE Brasil area are also still suffering from illegal charcoal exploitation (P. Develey in litt. 2007). The massive clearance of Atlantic forest in Alagoas and Pernambuco has left few other sites likely to support populations of this species. Having a montane distribution that is close to the maximum altitude within its range, this species is also potentially susceptible to climate change (BirdLife International unpublished data).

Conservation Actions Underway
The efforts of conservationists resulted in the creation of the Murici Ecological Station in 2001, encompassing 6,116 ha. National and international efforts to ensure the effectiveness of this designation are on-going (J. M. Goerck in litt. 1999, 2000). Frei Caneca is a private reserve protecting c. 6 km2 of forest (Anon 2003); an additional 360 ha of adjacent forest have been purchased by Birdlife/SAVE Brazil (P. Develey in litt. 2007).
  Conservation Actions Proposed
Survey other remnant patches of upland Atlantic forest in Alagoas (such as Usina Serra Grande) and Pernambuco, especially the BirdLife/SAVE Brasil forest, for this species. Ensure the de facto protection of Murici Ecological Station. Secure the long-term protected status and conservation of Mata do Estado. Investigate the expansion of Frei Caneca Private Reserve and BirdLife/SAVE Brazil forest area to include adjacent forest. Provide management infrastructure for the area purchased at Serra do Urubu. Implement environmental education programmes at Serra do Urubu and Murici Ecological Station. Conduct research into the species's ecology and breeding biology. Captive breeding should be considered (Pereira et al. 2014).

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.

IUCN. 2015. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015-4. Available at: (Accessed: 19 November 2015).

Pereira, G.A., de Melo Dantas, S., Silveira, L.F., Roda, S.A., Albano, C., Sonntag, F.A., Leal, S., Periquito, M.C., Malacco, G.B. and Lees, A.C. 2014. Status of the globally threatened forest birds of northeast Brazil. Papéis Avulsos de Zoologia 54(14): 177-194.

Roda, S. A.; Carlos, C. J.; Rodrigues, R. C. 2003. New and noteworthy records for some endemic and threatened birds of the Atlantic forest of north-eastern Brazil. Bulletin of the British Ornithologists' Club 123: 227-236.

Roda, S. A.; Pereira, G. A.; Dantas, S. D. 2009. Alagoas Antwren Myrmotherula snowi: a new locality and remarks on its conservation. Cotinga: 144-146.

SACC. 2006. A classification of the bird species of South America. Available at: #

Sibley, C.G. and Monroe, B.L. 1990. Distribution and Taxonomy of Birds of the World. Yale University Press, New Haven, USA.

Sibley, C.G. and Monroe, B.L. 1993. A supplement to 'Distribution and Taxonomy of Birds of the World'. Yale University Press, New Haven, USA.

Teixeira, D. M.; Gonzaga, L. P. 1985. Uma nova subespécie de Myrmotherula unicolor (Ménétries, 1835) do nordeste do Brazil. Boletim do Museu Nacional Rio de Janeiro Zoologia no.310.

Whitney, B. M.; Pacheco, J. F. 1995. Distribution and conservation status of four Myrmotherula antwrens (Formicariidae) in the Atlantic Forest or Brazil. Bird Conservation International 5(2/3): 421-439.

Whitney, B. M.; Pacheco, J. F. 1997. Behavior, vocalizations, and relationships of some Myrmotherula Antwrens (Thamnophilidae) in eastern Brazil, with comments on the "plain-winged" group. Ornithological Monographs 48: 809-819.

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.

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

Species Guardian Action Update

Text account compilers
Bird, J., Calvert, R., Capper, D., Mahood, S., Pople, R., Symes, A., Taylor, J. & Ashpole, J

Develey, P., Goerck, J., Olmos, F., Roda, S. & Whittaker, A.

IUCN Red List evaluators
Symes, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Myrmotherula snowi. 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 - Alagoas antwren (Myrmotherula snowi) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Critically Endangered
Family Thamnophilidae (Antbirds)
Species name author Teixeira & Gonzaga, 1985
Population size 1-49 mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 150 km2
Country endemic? Yes
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species