Sulphur-throated Finch Sicalis taczanowskii is restricted to the Tumbesian region of extreme wetern Ecuador and north-west Peru. It is currently listed as Least Concern because it was not thought to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under any of the IUCN Red List criteria. Although this species may have a restricted range, with Extent of Occurrence (EOO) estimated at 41,400 km2, it was not believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (EOO <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appeared to be stable, and hence the species was not thought to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size has not been quantified; it has been described as ‘common but patchily distributed’ (Stotz et al. 1996), but it was not believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure).
This species was historically very abundant, with vast flocks reported near Tumbes, Peru (Taczanowski 1877), and in the Santa Elena Peninsula, Ecuador (Marchant 1958). However, this species has undergone a severe decline across most of its range (Williams 2012); recent observations have been of much smaller flocks of around 10-50 individuals in these areas (Williams 2012) and it has been considered rare in Ecuador since the 1980s (Paynter 1970). Although it was considered common in Peru (Ridgely and Tudor 1989), no details were presented and this is no longer thought to be true (Williams 2012). In addition, this species is known only from two protected areas in Lambayeque: the Bosque de Pomac Historical Sanctuary and the Chaparri Private Conservation Area (where it is regularly seen in large flocks of 200-300 birds) (Williams 2012). Given that this species has suffered dramatic declines in recent decades and now occupies a small, largely unprotected range, with a high human population density and where human activity is altering the remaining habitat, this species may warrant uplisting from Least Concern (Williams 2012).
If there is evidence to suggest that the rate of decline of this species’s population may have approached 30% over the past three generations (11 years), and this decline is projected to occur over the next 11 years based on an index of abundance and a decline in area of occupancy, extent of occurrence and/or quality of habitat, the Sulphur-throated Finch would warrant uplisting to Near Threatened, approaching criteria A2bc+3bc+4bc for Vulnerable. If the global population is estimated to approach 10,000 mature individuals, has an estimated rate of continuing decline approaching 10% over three generations (11 years) and/or all subpopulations are approaching 1,000 mature individuals, this species could also qualify as Near Threatened under criterion C1+2a(i) of the IUCN Red List.
For the purposes of Red List assessments, subpopulations are defined as geographically or otherwise distinct groups between which there is little or no demographic or genetic exchange, i.e. typically one successful migrant per year or less.
Further information is required on this species’s population size, trends, distribution and the size of the largest subpopulation. Additional comments on the proposed uplisting are welcome.
Marchant, S. (1958) The birds of the Santa Elena Peninsula, S. W. Ecuador. Ibis 100, 349-387.
Paynter, R. A. (1970) Check-list of the birds of the world, 13. Cambridge, MA: Museum of Comparative Zoology.
Ridgely, R. S. and Tudor, G. (1989) The birds of South America, 1.Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Stotz, D. F., Fitzpatrick, J. W., Parker III, T. A. and Moskovits. D. K. (1996) Neotropical birds: ecology and conservation. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.
Taczanowsi, L. (1877) Liste des oiseaux recueillis en 1876 au nord du Perou occidental par MM Jelski et Stolzmann. Proc. Zool. Soc. Lond. 1877, 319-333.
Williams, R. S. R. (2012) Sulphur-throated Finch Sicalis taczanowskii: a little-known and declining Tumbesian endemic. Neotropical Birding 10, 63-66.
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