Colaptes fernandinae


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family

Scientific Name: Colaptes fernandinae
Species Authority: Vigors, 1827
Common Name(s):
English Fernandina's Flicker, Cuban Flicker

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Vulnerable A2c+3c+4c;B1ab(i,ii,iii,iv,v);C2a(i);D1 ver 3.1
Year Published: 2012
Date Assessed: 2012-05-01
Assessor(s): BirdLife International
Reviewer(s): Butchart, S. & Symes, A.
Contributor(s): Jackson, J., Kirkconnell, A., Kirwan, G. & Mitchell, A.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Benstead, P., Harding, M., Isherwood, I., Mahood, S., Sharpe, C J, Wege, D.
This species is classified as Vulnerable because although it has a very small population, which is severely fragmented and rapidly declining, the largest subpopulation in Zapata is too large for the species to qualify as Endangered.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: Colaptes fernandinae was once widespread but never abundant on Cuba, and is now rare and localised; there are probably fewer than 900 individuals in total. It is currently known from Soroa, Mil Cumbres, Nortey, and Loma del Taburete in Pinar del Río province; the Zapata Swamp in Matanzas province (from at least twelve localities); Monte Ramonal, near Corralillo, El Dorado, and Isabela de Sagua in northern Villa Clara province; Aguada de Pasajeros and Rodas in Cienfuegos province; near Gibara (in the Campos de Veloso) and near Velazco (El Recreo), in Holguín province; Jobabo in Las Tunas province; Cienaga de Birama in Granma Province; and Sierra de Najasa (at La Belén and El Chorrillo) in Camagüey province (Mitchell 1998, A. Mitchell in litt. 1998, G. Kirwan in litt. 2005, A. Kirkconnell in litt. 2005). There are also recent records from eight localities in Santiago de Cuba province, where the most important locality is La Tabla (Mitchell et al. 2000, A. Kirkconnell in litt. 2005). The largest population persists in the Zapata Swamp, where total numbers were estimated at 300-400 pairs in 1998 (A. Mitchell in litt. 1998, A. Kirkconnell in litt. 1999), falling to 250-300 in 2007 (A. Mitchell in litt. 2007). Even within Zapata Swamp it continues to decline, for instance, in Bermeja in the early 90's there were between 60 to 80 pairs, in 2007 this had dropped to between 14 to 18 pairs (A. Mitchell in litt. 2007).

Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: The population is estimated to number 600-800 individuals (A. Mitchell in litt. 1998, A. Kirkconnell in litt. 1999). This roughly equates to 400-530 mature individuals.
Population Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: It breeds in palm-savannah, where it nests in dead and live palm trees, especially Palma cana (Mitchell and Wells 1997, J. A. Jackson in litt. 1999), and also inhabits pastures, swamps, forest edge and dense woodland (Winkler et al. 1995). Coiurtship takes place in late December and January, and nest excavation begins in February or March; breeding takes place in March-June (Winkler et al. 1995), and loose "colonies" have occasionally been found at Bermeja in the Zapata Swamp (Wells and Mitchell 1995, Mitchell 1998, A. Mitchell in litt. 1998, 2007). However, it is mostly solitary, and aggression between conspecifics is common (Wells and Mitchell 1995). There may be an association with palms used as a source of thatch, because fungus invades such trees making them more suitable for nesting (J. A. Jackson in litt. 1999).

Systems: Terrestrial; Freshwater

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Logging and clearance for agriculture are severe threats. Nest-trees are often shared with the Cuban Parrot Amazona leucocephala, and trappers frequently topple the trees to collect young parrots, causing both the loss of the woodpecker's brood and the permanent destruction of the nest-site (Mitchell and Wells 1997). Community members will often fell a tree containing a woodpecker nest hole just to check if there is a parrot present, or even fell trees with woodpecker nests when there are clearly no parrots present, presumably to eat the eggs or nestlings (A. Mitchell in litt. 2007). Hurricanes have a devastating impact on the dead palm trees, as evidenced at Bermeja after Hurricane Lilli in 1996 (Mitchell 1998, A. Mitchell in litt. 1998), and have recently hit the species's stronghold in Zapata, causing significant destruction (A. Mitchell in litt. 2005). West Indian Woodpeckers Melanerpes superciliaris have been observed to prey on the eggs and chicks (Wells and Mitchell 1995).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Conservation Actions Underway
The entire Zapata Swamp is a reserve, but there are no available resources to effectively police the area (Mitchell et al. 2000).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Continue to monitor population trends. Monitor rates of habitat loss and degradation. Design and distribute posters in villages around the Zapata Swamp to raise awareness of the importance and vulnerability of this species and others such as A. leucocephala (Mitchell et al. 2000). Fit nest-boxes to live palms within and around present nesting areas (Mitchell et al. 2000). Consider controlling West Indian Woodpeckers at key sites to reduce competition for nest sites (A. Mitchell in litt. 2007).

Citation: BirdLife International 2012. Colaptes fernandinae. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015.2. <>. Downloaded on 05 September 2015.
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