Royal Cinclodes Cinclodes aricomae occurs in the Andes of south-east Peru (Cuzco, Apurímac, Puno, Ayacucho and Junín) and adjacent La Paz, Bolivia (C. Aucca Chutas in litt. 2012). It is currently listed as Critically Endangered under criterion C2a(i) because it has an extremely small population, thought to number <250 mature individuals, restricted to severely fragmented and rapidly declining habitat, with all subpopulations numbering ≤50 mature individuals.
Historically, it was probably common, at least locally, and distributed along the entire Cordillera Real. Its habitat now occupies c.10% of the estimated potential cover in Bolivia, and possibly less than 3% in large parts of Cuzco (Fjeldså and Kessler 1996), where natural habitat halved in extent during the 1980s. The majority of Peruvian records are from near Cuzco city, in Cuzco and Apurímac (Fjeldså and Kessler 1996), including the Cordillera Vilcanota (H. Lloyd in litt. 2004), with numbers estimated at 100-150 individuals in 1990 (Fjeldså and Krabbe 1990). It was recently recorded in the Pariahuanca Valley, Junín, a significant northwesterly extension (D. Lane in litt. 2008, Witt and Lane 2009). Surveys in three river valleys of the Cordillera Vilcanota in 2003-2005 confirmed the species’s presence at only one of ten sites visited and estimated just two birds in 1.71 km2 of Polylepis habitat (Lloyd 2008). A record in 1997, in the Cordillera Apolobamba, La Paz (Valqui 2000), was the first in Bolivia since 1876, but it has since been recorded in the Ilampu Valley in 2000 (Vogel and Davis 2002) and near Sanja Pampa in 2003 (I. Gomez in litt. 2003, 2008, 2009), and subsequent surveys have found it at 14 localities in the country (J. Mobley in litt. 2010): eight in the Cordillera Apolobamba and six in the Cordillera la Paz, with the Bolivian population estimated at 50-100 individuals (D. Lebbin in litt. 2010, J. Mobley in litt. 2010, Gómez et al. 2011). An international conservation plan for the species that was being drafted in 2010 estimates the population in Peru at 181 individuals, suggesting a total population of 231-281 individuals (D. Lebbin in litt. 2010).
However, recent information suggests that the species’s population may no longer be in decline. Reforestation actions have provided the microhabitat for various species of fauna that are food for the Royal Cinclodes and can be used during dry seasons (C. Aucca Chutas in litt. 2012). As a result, the population is said to be stable, and in places such as Abra Malaga (Cusco-Peru), only three pairs of this species were found for more than 20 years, but records now state that there are four pairs in this area (C. Aucca Chutas in litt. 2012). If this information is confirmed, and the species’s population has been stable or increasing for at least five years, it would no longer qualify as Critically Endangered. If the population is still estimated to be <250 mature individuals, it would warrant downlisting to Endangered under criterion D of the IUCN Red List.
Further information is required on this species’s population size, trends and the size of the largest subpopulation.
Fjeldså, J. and Kessler, M. (1996) Conserving the biological diversity of Polylepis woodlands of the highland of Peru and Bolivia. Copenhagen, Denmark: NORDECO.
Fjeldså, J. and Krabbe, N. (1990) Birds of the high Andes. Copenhagen, Denmark: Apollo Books.
Gómez, M. I., Naoki, K., Palabral, A., Ocampo, M., Avalos, V. and Merida, N. (2011) Informe final: Cinclodes aricomae. BirdLife International.
Lloyd, H. (2008) Abundance and patterns of rarity of Polylepis birds in the Cordillera Vilcanota, southern Perú: implications for habitat management strategies. Bird Conservation International 18: 164-180.
Valqui, T. (2000) Rediscovery of the Royal Cinclodes Cinclodes aricomae in Bolivia. Cotinga 14: 104.
Vogel, C. J. and Davis, S. E. (2002) A new site for Royal Cinclodes Cinclodes aricomae and other noteworthy records from the Ilampu Valley, Bolivia. Cotinga 18: 104-106.
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