Nesopsar nigerrimus


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family

Scientific Name: Nesopsar nigerrimus
Species Authority: (Osburn, 1859)
Common Name(s):
English Jamaican Blackbird

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.

2012 Endangered

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).

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.
Population Trend: Decreasing

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

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. Version 2015.2. <>. Downloaded on 04 September 2015.
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