Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Aves Caprimulgiformes Trochilidae

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

Identification information: 11.2-12.7cm. Medium-sized hummingbird with prominent crest and elongated throat feathers forming a 'beard'. Crest is mostly white, and obvious white frame for the face extends from the rear of the head, around the ear coverts and down to the breast side. In the centre of the 'beard' are metallic purplish-blue feathers, and the tail has an extensive buff-white area on the outer tail feathers. Similar spp. O. guerinii, O. lindenii, and O. stuebelii were previously lumped with the present species. O. guerinii has a white stripe on the outer retrices including the shafts, and the beard of the male is green. O. lindenii has a longer crest and greatly reduced green feathering in the beard. O. stuebelii differs in having the white areas replaced by a tan colour, a reduced crest and beard and larger whitish area on the outer retrices.

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.
Countries occurrence:
Continuing decline in area of occupancy (AOO): Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in area of occupancy (AOO): No
Estimated extent of occurrence (EOO) - km2:
Continuing decline in extent of occurrence (EOO): Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in extent of occurrence (EOO): No
Continuing decline in number of locations: Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in the number of locations: No
Lower elevation limit (metres): 3000
Upper elevation limit (metres): 5200
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.

Trend Justification:  The species's population is suspected to have declined owing to extensive and severe habitat loss and degradation caused by deforestation, extensive burning and overgrazing, however given the lack of records since 1946 the rate of decline has not been estimated.
Current Population Trend: Decreasing
Additional data:
Number of mature individuals: 50-249 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: 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
Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat: Unknown
Generation Length (years): 4.2
Movement patterns: Not a Migrant

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 2014: e.T22726798A40779445. . Downloaded on 13 October 2015.
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