Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Aves Columbiformes Columbidae

Scientific Name: Starnoenas cyanocephala
Species Authority: (Linnaeus, 1758)
Common Name(s):
English Blue-headed Quail-dove, Blue-headed Quail-Dove
Taxonomic Source(s): del Hoyo, J., Collar, N.J., Christie, D.A., Elliott, A. and Fishpool, L.D.C. 2014. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Lynx Edicions BirdLife International.
Identification information: 30-33 cm. Stunningly marked, large quail-dove. Cinnamon-brown with spectacular head and throat marking. Blue crown, black eye-stripe and white facial stripe, black gorget bordered narrowly white below and bluish mottling on sides of throat. Voice Distinctive, two phrase call uuu-up, uuu-up, last note of each rising and ending abruptly. Hints Shy, but often in areas with ample leaf-litter.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Endangered C2a(i) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2012
Date Assessed: 2012-05-01
Assessor(s): BirdLife International
Reviewer(s): Butchart, S. & Symes, A.
Contributor(s): Kirkconnell, A. & Mitchell, A.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Benstead, P., Isherwood, I., Mahood, S., Pilgrim, J., Sharpe, C J, Wege, D.
This species is extremely rare and has a very small population with extremely small subpopulations, and numbers are continuing to decline in response to hunting and habitat loss. For these reasons the species is classified as Endangered.

Previously published Red List assessments:
2008 Endangered (EN)
2006 Endangered (EN)
2004 Endangered (EN)
2000 Endangered (EN)
1996 Endangered (EN)
1994 Endangered (EN)
1988 Threatened (T)

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: Starnoenas cyanocephala is endemic to Cuba, where it was once common and widespread from Pinar del Río across to Guantánamo. It is now rare almost everywhere, and virtually extinct on the Isla de la Juventud and Isla de Pinos (A. Kirkconnell in litt. 1999). In the late 1980s, reasonable numbers were reported only from Zapata Swamp, and a more recent study found good numbers in the lowlands around Zapata, with another smaller, but significant, population in the mountains at La Güira in Pinar del Río province and another on Guanahacabibes peninsular (Wells and Mitchell 1995). Small numbers are also known or presumed to persist in several additional areas throughout the country (A. Mitchell in litt. 1998).

Countries occurrence:
Turks and Caicos Islands
Continuing decline in area of occupancy (AOO): Yes
Extreme fluctuations in area of occupancy (AOO): No
Estimated extent of occurrence (EOO) - km2: 28500
Continuing decline in extent of occurrence (EOO): Yes
Extreme fluctuations in extent of occurrence (EOO): No
Number of Locations: 11-100
Continuing decline in number of locations: Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in the number of locations: No
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: The population is estimated to number 1,000-2,499 individuals based on an assessment of known records, descriptions of abundance and range size. This is consistent with recorded population density estimates for congeners or close relatives with a similar body size, and the fact that only a proportion of the estimated Extent of Occurrence is likely to be occupied. This estimate is equivalent to 667-1,666 mature individuals, rounded here to 600-1,700 mature individuals. However, Leavelle (2008) recently estimated a much higher density than that used in these calculations, and so the population estimate may be revised upwards.

Trend Justification:  There are no new data on trends, but the species is suspected to be declining at a slow or moderate rate, owing to excessive hunting, and habitat loss and degradation.
Current Population Trend: Decreasing
Additional data:
Number of mature individuals: 600-1700 Continuing decline of mature individuals: Yes
Extreme fluctuations: No Population severely fragmented: Yes
No. of subpopulations: 2-100 Continuing decline in subpopulations: Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in subpopulations: No All individuals in one subpopulation: No
No. of individuals in largest subpopulation: 1-89

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: This species occurs in the undergrowth of lowland forest including swampy areas, and occasionally in highland forest. It forages for seeds, berries and snails on the ground in dense forest and occasionally on forest tracks. It is generally found in pairs, but larger congregations have been recorded, with 18 birds at a water hole during the 1995 dry season (A. Mitchell in litt. 1998). Breeding takes place mainly between April and June, with nests placed on or close to the ground, often amongst tree roots or in stump cavities (A. Mitchell in litt. 1998), or higher up on a horizontal branch 2.5-8 m above the ground (Leavelle 2008, Kirkconnell and González 2008).

Systems: Terrestrial
Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat: Yes
Generation Length (years): 4.6
Movement patterns: Not a Migrant

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The combined and chronic effects of excessive hunting and habitat destruction have produced a large-scale decline. It has always been regarded as excellent eating, and is still trapped illegally using drop-traps baited with orange seeds (A. Mitchell in litt. 1998). Hurricanes may significantly affect the species by felling large areas of forest, such as happened in Zapata Swamp in 1996 (A. Mitchell in litt. 1998).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Conservation Actions Underway
It is protected under national law and in the Zapata Swamp, but neither is enforced and hunting continues (A. Mitchell in litt. 1998). The only known highland population is protected within La Güira National Park (A. Mitchell in litt. 1998).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Survey areas outside known sites, where the species may persist (A. Mitchell in litt. 1998). Immediately protect any populations discovered during these surveys. Conduct public awareness and education campaigns to highlight the plight of the species and reduce hunting pressure (A. Mitchell in litt. 1998). Enforce the protection afforded by protected areas.

Citation: BirdLife International. 2012. Starnoenas cyanocephala. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2012: e.T22690970A38969667. . Downloaded on 13 October 2015.
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