Ramphomicron dorsale 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Aves Caprimulgiformes Trochilidae

Scientific Name: Ramphomicron dorsale Salvin & Godman, 1880
Common Name(s):
English Black-backed Thornbill
Taxonomic Source(s): SACC. 2005 and updates. A classification of the bird species of South America. Available at: #
Identification information: 9-10cm. Male has very short, slightly decurved black bill; upperparts velvety black, postocular spot white, uppertail-coverts purplish-bronzy on tips; olive green gorget, rest of underparts dark grey mixed with rufous, and with green spots; tail quite long, deeply forked, purplish-black, with outer pair of rectrices broadened. Female shining green above, uppertail-coverts as in male; buffy-white below with some green spots; tail similar to male's but shorter, with outer pairs of rectrices tipped white.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Endangered B1ab(i,ii,iii) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2016
Date Assessed: 2016-10-01
Assessor(s): BirdLife International
Reviewer(s): Butchart, S. & Symes, A.
Contributor(s): Cortés, O., Krabbe, N. & Olaciregui , C.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Butchart, S., Ekstrom, J., Sharpe, C.J., Taylor, J.
This species is considered Endangered because it occupies a very small range, within which it has become apparent that suitable habitat is severely fragmented owing to deforestation, extensive burning and over-grazing. The impoverished state of previously suitable habitat in some areas necessitates urgent work to study this species and its threats.

Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:Ramphomicron dorsale is endemic to the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta in north-eastern Colombia (del Hoyo 1999). It is known from three sites, two of which are the source of historical records only (C. Olaciregui in litt. 2012). The population size has not been quantified, but it is believed to be in decline owing to the continued loss of and damage to the species's habitats.

Countries occurrence:
Additional data:
Continuing decline in area of occupancy (AOO):Yes
Extreme fluctuations in area of occupancy (AOO):NoEstimated extent of occurrence (EOO) - km2:3900
Continuing decline in extent of occurrence (EOO):YesExtreme fluctuations in extent of occurrence (EOO):No
Continuing decline in number of locations:Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in the number of locations:NoLower elevation limit (metres):2000
Upper elevation limit (metres):4600
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:This species's population size has not been estimated, but it was described as 'uncommon' by Stotz et al. (1996).

Trend Justification:  The species's population is suspected to be in decline owing to severe and ongoing habitat loss and degradation. The likely rate of decline is unknown, but could be rapid or very rapid, and more research is required.

Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
Number of mature individuals:UnknownContinuing decline of mature individuals:Unknown
Extreme fluctuations:NoPopulation severely fragmented:Yes
Continuing decline in subpopulations:Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in subpopulations:NoAll individuals in one subpopulation:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:This species occurs on the edges of humid montane forest, elfin forest and páramo, from 2,000 m to the snow-line at 4,600 m (del Hoyo 1999). It is thought to breed in the timberline-páramo ecotone (Fundación ProAves 2011). It appears to forage in all strata, feeding on the nectar of Ericaceae, Erythrina species, Lobeliaceae, Melastomataceae, Puya species, Rubiaceae and Salvia species, and taking insects in the air or gleaning them from leaves. It moves to lower elevations in May-June (del Hoyo 1999).

Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat:Yes
Generation Length (years):4.2
Movement patterns:Altitudinal Migrant

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Forest clearance for agriculture is severe and has reached this species's elevation range (O. Cortes in litt. 2011), whilst trees in some areas are unsustainably cut for firewood (N. Krabbe in litt. 2010). The state of páramo and the timberline-páramo ecotone in parts of the species's range is described as "disastrous" (Fundación ProAves 2011). Extensive and regular burning (N. Krabbe in litt. 2010, Fundación ProAves in litt. 2011) and heavy livestock grazing are causing severe damage to the timberline zone (Fundación ProAves 2011). The species is also potentially affected by climate change (Fundación ProAves 2011).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Conservation Actions Underway
It is recorded annually in the c.770-ha El Dorado Bird Reserve, but many of these are probably wandering immatures (Fundación ProAves 2011). Since 2006, the foundation has been carrying out a programme to eradicate exotic pines and replace them with native trees, with the support of the local environment authority (C. Olaciregui in litt. 2012). The species may be afforded some protection by the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta National Park (del Hoyo 1999).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Conduct research into the species's ecology and life history.  Estimate area of occupancy (C. Olaciregui in litt. 2012). Confirm presence at sites where the species was historically recorded (C. Olaciregui in litt. 2012). Carry out surveys to obtain a population estimate. Monitor trends in the population. Monitor the extent and condition of habitat. Raise awareness of the species's plight amongst local people. Increase the area of suitable habitat that receives adequate protection. Encourage sustainable livestock and land management practices.

Citation: BirdLife International. 2016. Ramphomicron dorsale. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T22687987A93178424. . Downloaded on 24 June 2018.
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