Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Aves Passeriformes Icteridae

Scientific Name: Nesopsar nigerrimus
Species Authority: (Osburn, 1859)
Common Name(s):
English Jamaican Blackbird
Identification information: 18 cm. Entirely black, small icterid with pointed bill and short tail. Similar spp. Greater Antillean Grackle Quiscalus niger is larger, with longer, forked tail and pale eye. Shiny Cowbird Molothrus bonariensis has shorter, more conical bill and sometimes forages on the ground. Male Jamaican Becard Pachyramphus niger is heavier built, more upright and has less pointed bill. Voice Loud, wheezing zwheezoo-whezoo whe, also check call. Hints Strictly arboreal, typically foraging alone or in pairs around bromeliads 3-12 m above the ground. Behaves like an oriole.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Endangered B1ab(i,ii,iii,v) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2013
Date Assessed: 2013-11-01
Assessor(s): BirdLife International
Reviewer(s): Butchart, S.
Contributor(s): Levy, C.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Capper, D., Pople, R., Sharpe, C J, Wege, D.
This species is restricted to a severely fragmented habitat, and has a very small and declining range and population. The primary cause of this continuing decline is habitat loss owing to bauxite mining, and it consequently qualifies as Endangered.

Previously published Red List assessments:
2012 Endangered (EN)
2008 Endangered (EN)
2004 Endangered (EN)
2000 Endangered (EN)
1994 Lower Risk/near threatened (LR/nt)
1988 Near Threatened (NT)

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: Nesopsar nigerrimus is decidedly uncommon on Jamaica (BirdLife Jamaica in litt. 1998). It is widely distributed but local in Cockpit Country, the central hills (e.g. Worthy Park) and the Blue and John Crow Mountains (BirdLife Jamaica in litt. 1998, Raffaele et al. 1998).

Countries occurrence:
Continuing decline in area of occupancy (AOO): Yes
Extreme fluctuations in area of occupancy (AOO): No
Estimated extent of occurrence (EOO) - km2: 1700
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
Lower elevation limit (metres): 500
Upper elevation limit (metres): 2200
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: The population is estimated to number 2,500-9,999 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 1,667-6,666 mature individuals, rounded here to 1,500-7,000 mature individuals.

Trend Justification:  There are no new data on population trends; however, the species is likely to be slowly decreasing as a result of habitat loss.
Current Population Trend: Decreasing
Additional data:
Number of mature individuals: 1500-7000 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: Pairs occupy large territories in mature, wet to very wet montane, mist, elfin and limestone forests, and forest edge, with heavy epiphytic growth of bromeliads or Phyllogonium moss (Cruz 1978, Downer and Sutton 1990, BirdLife Jamaica in litt. 1998, Raffaele et al. 1998). It occurs at elevations of 510-2,200 m, with some birds moving to 210 m in the wet north-east (John Crow Mountains) outside the breeding season, but it is generally absent from slopes exposed to strong winds (Cruz 1978, Downer and Sutton 1990, BirdLife Jamaica in litt. 1998, Raffaele et al. 1998, Stattersfield et al. 1998, C. Levy in litt. 1999). The diet is animal food, especially insects, foraged for in the canopy among tree-ferns, epiphytes, moss-covered trunks and dead leaves (Cruz 1978, Skutch 1996, Raffaele et al. 1998, C. Levy in litt. 1999). It is a bromeliad specialist, with c.60% of foraging records noted on this substrate (Cruz 1978).

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): Habitat loss has been caused primarily by afforestation (mostly) with Caribbean pine Pinus caribaea, coffee plantations, removal of trees for charcoal-burning, deliberate fires, small-scale farming and development (Cruz 1978, C. Levy in litt. 1999), and with ongoing habitat degradation parasitism by Shiny Cowbird Molothrus bonariensis increases (Koenig in litt. 2007). It may have suffered especially from the removal of mature trees, since these support the large tank bromeliads in which it forages (BirdLife Jamaica in litt. 1998, Koenig in litt. 2007). However, the most significant current threat is bauxite mining in its stronghold in Cockpit Country (Koenig in litt. 2007).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Conservation Actions Underway
The Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park extends over 800 km2 and protects a notable population (Skutch 1996, C. Levy in litt. 1999). This is part of a system of protected areas comprising 40 or more legally designated forest reserves, some of which also protect the species (Raffaele et al. 1998). However, the long-term security, and therefore value, of such reserves is uncertain because management and enforcement are weak, and habitat destruction is not restricted (BirdLife Jamaica in litt. 1998, Raffaele et al. 1998). Funding is actively being sought for the conservation of Cockpit Country (BirdLife Jamaica in litt. 1998) and there is an on-going, high profile public awareness campaign to prevent bauxite mining in Cockpit Country; Cockpit Country Stakeholders Group and Local Forest Management Committees are engaged in the process of voicing opposition to mining and having the area declared "closed to mining" by Minister's Discretion (Koenig in litt. 2007).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Survey to improve knowledge of the species's status and ecology (BirdLife Jamaica in litt. 1998). Design and implement management plans for all designated reserves where N. nigerrimus occurs (BirdLife Jamaica in litt. 1998).  Declare Cockpit Country "closed to mining" by ministerial decree.  Enforce habitat protection laws in National Parks.  Monitor known populations and establish a captive breeding population to support future reintroduction and supplementation efforts.

Citation: BirdLife International. 2013. Nesopsar nigerrimus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2013: e.T22724163A48116831. . Downloaded on 06 October 2015.
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