Oxypogon cyanolaemus


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family

Scientific Name: Oxypogon cyanolaemus
Species Authority: Salvin & Godman, 1880
Common Name(s):
English Blue-bearded Helmetcrest
Taxonomic Notes:

Oxypogon guerinii, O. cyanolaemus, O. lindenii and O. stuebelii (del Hoyo and Collar 2014) were previously lumped as O. guerinii following Sibley and Monroe (1990, 1993).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Critically Endangered C2a(ii) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2014
Date Assessed: 2014-07-24
Assessor(s): BirdLife International
Reviewer(s): Butchart, S.
Contributor(s): Cortes, O.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Butchart, S., Ekstrom, J., Martin, R, Symes, A. & Taylor, J.
This newly-split species has not been recorded since 1946 and has not been found on several recent surveys. Extensive burning and overgrazing has severely degraded its high altitude paramo habitat, and any remaining population is inferred to be very small and declining. For these reasons the species has been classified as Critically Endangered, but survey effort has not yet been sufficient for it to be listed as Critically Endangered (Possibly Extinct).

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: Oxypogon cyanolaemus is known only from the mountains of the Santa Marta region of northeast Colombia. It is known from at least 62 museum specimens, the most recent taken in 1946, but there appear to have been no confirmed records since then (Collar and Salaman 2013). As long ago as the early 20th century the species was reportedly ‘found very sparingly’ and it was noted that ‘bushes and shrubbery are scarce on this paramo [Paramo de Mamarongo], hence the few birds found there' (Todd and Carriker 1922). Surveys during 1999-2003 (Strewe & Navarro 2004), brief surveys of the southern slope of the massif in February 2007 (N. Krabbe in litt. 2007) and surveys at higher elevations in December 2011 (Luna and Quevedo 2012) all failed to record the species.
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: There have been no confirmed records of the species since 1946, and even in the early 20th century it was reported to be scarce. Recent surveys of the Santa Marta massif have failed to find the species, and any remaining population is therefore presumed to be very small; the population estimate is placed here in the band 50-249 mature individuals.
Population Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: Assumed to be similar to O. guerinii, though little data relating directly to this taxon. It may depend on Espeletia (frailejón) as one of its most important food sources, and there is only one species of this subshrub known from Santa Marta, Libanothamnus occultus, which has been recorded from subparamo to open slopes at 3,400-­4,040 m across the massif (Cleef & Rangel 1984 and Cuatrecasas 2013, in Collar and Salaman 2013).
Systems: Terrestrial

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s):

The paramo of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta is seriously affected by the grazing of cattle herds belonging to indigenous communities, who repeatedly burn the paramos for pasture (WWF 2013). Indigenous communities collect L.occultus for firewood (Cuatrecasas 2013, in Collar and Salaman 2013), further drastically reducing the population of this frailejón, which is classified as Critically Endangered on the Colombian Red List (García et al. 2005) and which may be a key food source for O. cyanolaemus.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Conservation and research actions in place
The entire range falls within the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta National Park, but this has not prevented intense pressure on the paramo.

Conservation and research actions needed
Search for any remaining populations of the species. Improve the level of habitat protection within Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta National Park. Seek to supply local people with firewood, in order to avoid further habitat destruction. Monitor the extent and condition of habitat. Raise awareness of the species's plight amongst local people. Encourage sustainable livestock and land management practices.

Citation: BirdLife International 2014. Oxypogon cyanolaemus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015.2. <>. Downloaded on 31 August 2015.
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