Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Aves Passeriformes Emberizidae

Scientific Name: Melanospiza richardsoni
Species Authority: (Cory, 1886)
Common Name(s):
English St Lucia Black Finch, St. Lucia Black Finch
Identification information: 13-14 cm. Small, black or brown finch with heavy, black bill. Male entirely black with pink legs. Female brown above with contrasting grey crown and buffy below. Immature like female. Similar spp. Lesser Antillean Bullfinch Loxigilla noctis is larger, has smaller bill and lacks pink legs. Voice Rough tick-zwee-swisiwis-you with emphasis on second and last notes, slightly resembling Bananaquit Coereba flaveola. Hints Mainly terrestrial in leaf-litter of dense understorey. Bobs tail up and down.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Endangered C2a(ii) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2012
Date Assessed: 2012-05-01
Assessor(s): BirdLife International
Reviewer(s): Butchart, S. & Symes, A.
Contributor(s): Temple, H. & Morton, M.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Isherwood, I., Mahood, S., Pople, R., Sharpe, C J, Wege, D.
This species qualifies as Endangered because it has a very small population; suitable habitat is declining through clearance for agriculture and introduced predators are also reducing numbers.

Previously published Red List assessments:
2008 Endangered (EN)
2004 Endangered (EN)
2000 Endangered (EN)
1994 Lower Risk/near threatened (LR/nt)
1988 Threatened (T)

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: Melanospiza richardsoni is endemic to St Lucia in the Lesser Antilles, where it is most numerous in the mountains (Bond 1979, Keith 1997). Surveys in 1987 failed to find any large populations and noted that much apparently suitable habitat was unoccupied (Keith 1997), although due to its broad habitat tolerance its range is probably not severely fragmented (H. Temple in litt. 2007).

Countries occurrence:
Saint Lucia
Continuing decline in area of occupancy (AOO): Yes
Extreme fluctuations in area of occupancy (AOO): No
Estimated extent of occurrence (EOO) - km2: 290
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
Upper elevation limit (metres): 800
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: The population is estimated to number 250-999 mature 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 375-1,499 individuals in total, rounded here to 350-1,500 individuals.

Trend Justification:  There are no new data on population trends, but the species is suspected to be in a slow decline owing to habitat degradation.
Current Population Trend: Decreasing
Additional data:
Number of mature individuals: 250-999 Continuing decline of mature individuals: Yes
Extreme fluctuations: No Population severely fragmented: No
No. of subpopulations: 1 Continuing decline in subpopulations: Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in subpopulations: No All individuals in one subpopulation: Yes
No. of individuals in largest subpopulation: 100

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: It exhibits considerable ecological flexibility, inhabiting rainforest, forest edge, secondary vegetation, plantations, shrubbery, semi-arid scrub and woodland, up to 800 m (Bond 1979, Trail and Baptista 1989, Keith 1997). However, it has a preference for dense undergrowth, which is naturally found in ravines within moist montane forest (Keith 1997). Birds feed primarily on the ground on seeds, fruit and insects (Keith 1997). Nesting has been recorded in April-June.

Systems: Terrestrial
Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat: Yes
Generation Length (years): 3.8
Movement patterns: Not a Migrant

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The clearing of undergrowth, particularly in timber plantations, renders areas completely unsuitable and is probably the major threat (Keith 1997). Introduced mongooses and rats may also predate eggs, nestlings and adults (Keith 1997).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Conservation Actions Underway
It occurs in a number of forest reserves, such as La Sorcière and Edmond (Raffaele et al. 1998).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Assess the species's current distribution and population, and use the results to design a conservation strategy. Curtail undergrowth clearing in plantations and other forested areas (Keith 1997).

Citation: BirdLife International. 2012. Melanospiza richardsoni. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2012: e.T22723725A39953408. . Downloaded on 10 October 2015.
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