Corvus palmarum


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family

Scientific Name: Corvus palmarum
Species Authority: Württemberg, 1835
Common Name(s):
English Palm Crow
Taxonomic Notes: Corvus palmarum (Sibley and Monroe 1990, 1993) was previously split into C. palmarum and C. minutus following Garrido et al. (1997), but these two taxa have now been lumped as C. palmarum following AOU (1998) and a review by the BirdLife Taxonomic Working Group.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Near Threatened ver 3.1
Year Published: 2012
Date Assessed: 2012-05-01
Assessor(s): BirdLife International
Reviewer(s): Taylor, J. & Butchart, S.
Contributor(s): Brooks, T., Kirkconnell, A., Mitchell, A. & Regalado, P.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Fisher, S., Harding, M., Isherwood, I., Mahood, S., O'Brien, A., Pople, R., Symes, A., Wege, D.
This species is classified as Near Threatened because it has a moderately small range in which habitat degradation and hunting are causing it to decline.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: Corvus palmarum constitutes two races, the nominate was formerly widespread in wooded areas from the lowlands to the mountains on Hispaniola (Garrido et al. 1997); however it has decreased and is now localised although not uncommon (Madge and Burn 1993) in the Dominican Republic, and only remains locally common in the Massif de la Selle (Madge and Burn 1993, Dávalos and Brooks 2001) and in the northern pine belt of Haiti (Latta et al. 2006). The Cuban race minutus has a very restricted range (Garrido et al. 1997, Garrido and Kirkconnell 2000). It is rare and local (Madge and Burn 1993), with the only recent records being from five 'municipios' south of Camagüey city in south-central Camagüey province (P. Regalado in litt. 2007). In Najasa, it is locally quite common (Madge and Burn 1993, A. Kirkconnell in litt. 1999); although it has undergone historic declines (A. Mitchell in litt. 1998) surveys suggested that it remained stable between 2000-2006 (P. Regalado in litt. 2007). Although it has also been recorded from Pinar del Rio provinces (La Manaja, Los Acostas and El Francisco), there has only been one (undocumented) report from this area within the last 50 years (Kirkconnell et al. 2004). The species is historically known from Pan Valley, at Guajibon and in the Vinales Valley (Pinar del Rio province); Yaguaramas, near Cienfuegos; in the Trinidad Valley; and in the Sierra de Banao (Sancti Spiritus province) (Kirkconnell et al. 2004).

Cuba; Dominican Republic; Haiti
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: The global population size has not been quantified, but this species is described as 'uncommon' (Stotz et al. 1996).
Population Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: On Hispaniola, birds are usually seen in small to medium-sized groups, foraging on the ground or in trees for fruit, seeds, insects, snails and lizards (Raffaele et al. 1998) and, in Haiti, it has even been recorded around local food markets (T. M. Brooks in litt. 2000). However, on Cuba though it formerly inhabited wooded areas from the lowlands to the mountains (Bond 1979) it is now known only from lowland cultivation with scattered groups of palm trees (Madge and Burn 1993). Nests are located in stands of tall palms (Madge and Burn 1993), with breeding from March-July (Raffaele et al. 1998, A. Kirkconnell in litt. 1999, Garrido and Kirkconnell 2000). It roosts communally, including with C. nasicus where the two occur together (P. Regalado in litt. 2007).

Systems: Terrestrial

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): On Hispaniola its decline is a result of widespread forest clearance for agriculture and probably also hunting for food (it is reputedly a delicacy) and sport (Madge and Burn 1993, Latta et al. 2006). It is more abundant on Haiti where gun ownership is lower (Latta et al. 2006). In Cuba, although partial clearance of dense forest may not have affected the species, the intensive clearance of Royal Palm (in which the species nests) for agriculture and livestock grazing may be causing declines and local extirpation, such as in Camagüey province (P. Regalado in litt. 2007). Housing developments have replaced much suitable habitat, and human disturbance of breeding sites and foraging areas may present a further threat (P. Regalado in litt. 2007). Competition with Cuban Crow C. nasicus, since habitat destruction has resulted in the overlap of their ranges, was thought to be a potential threat (A. Mitchell in litt. 1998), but it has since been suggested that the two species occupy different niches (P. Regalado in litt. 2007).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Conservation Actions Underway
The species is legally protected in Cuba. It occurs in a number of national parks, such as the Sierra de Bahoruco, Dominican Republic and La Bélen protected area near Najasa, Cuba (A. Mitchell in litt. 1998), although nesting has only infrequently recorded in La Bélen (P. Regalado in litt. 2007).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Ensure the effective protection of habitat in national parks. Discourage the clearance of native forest for agriculture. Afford protection to the species and enforce this protection to discourage hunting. Monitor the species and investigate the effect of hunting on populations. Survey to assess its current distribution and population (A. Mitchell in litt. 1998). On Cuba, research the reasons for the species's decline, and take appropriate action (A. Mitchell in litt. 1998). Support efforts to create an ecological station at Najasa in order to implement conservation actions for this and other key species in collaboration with local communities and regional authorities (P. Regalado in litt. 2007).

Citation: BirdLife International 2012. Corvus palmarum. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015.2. <>. Downloaded on 02 September 2015.
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