Helmeted Woodpecker (Hylatomus galeatus): uplist from VU to EN?

This discussion was first published as part of the 2016 Red List update. At the time a decision regarding its status was pended, but to enable potential reassessment of this species as part of the 2017 Red List update this post remains open and the date of posting has been updated.

BirdLife species factsheet for Helmeted Woodpecker

Helmeted Woodpecker is found in southern Brazil, eastern Paraguay and north-eastern Argentina. The species is listed as Vulnerable under A2c+3c+4c; C2a(i). Its small population is suspected to have suffered a rapid population reduction owing to the extensive and on-going loss and fragmentation of its habitat. The population is estimated at <10,000 mature individuals (A. Bodrati in litt. 2010, G. Kohler in litt. 2010, M. Lammertink in litt. 2010, A. E. Rupp in litt. 2010, Lammertink et al. 2012). However, this may well be an overestimate given the species’s apparent scarcity at well observed sites (M. Lammertink in litt. 2010). It is rare or very uncommon at all known sites and its status remains unclear, particularly considering the high rates of deforestation within its range, and considering its association with mature forest of which little remains in the region and the extent of which is still being reduced due to selective logging (Lammertink et al. 2011). Although rates of deforestation in its range are thought to have decreased in recent years (R. Clay in litt. 2007, A. Bodrati in litt. 2010, G. Kohler in litt. 2010), this species’s population is still suspected to be undergoing a rapid decline on the basis of continued habitat destruction, degradation and fragmentation.

In the Brazilian Red List assessment for birds (MMA 2014) this species is listed as Endangered under criterion C2a(i). The population is suspected to be <2,500 mature individuals with <250 mature individuals in each subpopulation. The population is in continuing decline owing to habitat loss. The species’s assessment on the Brazilian Red List can be accessed here.

Up-to-date information is requested on the species’s population size, population size reduction and subpopulation structure. Given that the Brazilian population is estimated at <2,500 mature individuals, are the populations in Paraguay and Argentina similarly small? If new data suggest that the population size has been overestimated, the species may be eligible for uplisting. If the number of mature individuals in each subpopulation is <250, the global population is <2,500 mature individuals and in continuing decline the species would likely qualify for Endangered under C2a(i).

Comments on the proposed uplisting and any new information are welcome.


Lammertink, M.; Bodrati, A.; Santos, R. E. F. 2011. Helmeted Woodpecker Dryocopus galeatus: a little-known Atlantic Forest endemic. Neotropical Birding: 45-51.

Lammertink, M.; Cockle, K. L.; Bodrati, A.; Santos, R. E. F. 2012. Helmeted Woodpecker (Dryocopus galeatus). Available at: http://neotropical.birds.cornell.edu/portal/species/overview?p_p_spp=320216.

MMA (2014) Lista Nacional Oficial de Espécies da Fauna Ameaçadas de Extinção. Portaria No 444, de 17 de dezembro de 2014. Diário Oficial da União – Seção 1. Nº 245, quinta-feira, 18 de dezembro de 2014

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3 Responses to Helmeted Woodpecker (Hylatomus galeatus): uplist from VU to EN?

  1. In Misiones, Argentina, we are in year 5 of an 8-year radiotracking study on Helmeted Woodpecker and co-existing woodpecker species. So far we have obtained complete tracking data on eight Helmeted Woodpecker individuals. We are gaining insights in the densities, territory sizes and ecological requirements of this species. During 2012-2015 we worked in an adjacent logged and old-growth forest, and during 2016-2019 we work in a similar, replicate logged to old-growth contrast at 53 km from the first site. I would like to ask for patience until we complete this study and publish our results, and revisit the question of the IUCN Red List status of the Helmeted Woodpecker at that time.

  2. I have thought since 2000 that Helmeted Woodpecker is endangered, but I also agree with Martjan: if we wait a few years there will be some actual data to support a decision.

  3. James Westrip (BirdLife) says:

    Based on available information, our proposal for the 2016 Red List would be to pend the decision on this species and keep this discussion open until 2017, while leaving the current Red List category unchanged in the 2016 update.

    Final 2016 Red List categories will be published on the BirdLife and IUCN websites in early December, following further checking of information relevant to the assessments by both BirdLife and IUCN.

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