Melanospiza richardsoni 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Aves Passeriformes Thraupidae

Scientific Name: Melanospiza richardsoni (Cory, 1886)
Common Name(s):
English St Lucia Black Finch, St. Lucia Black Finch
Taxonomic Source(s): del Hoyo, J., Collar, N.J., Christie, D.A., Elliott, A., Fishpool, L.D.C., Boesman, P. and Kirwan, G.M. 2016. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Volume 2: Passerines. Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, Barcelona, Spain and Cambridge, UK.
Identification information: 13-14 cm. Small, black or brown finch with heavy, black bill. Male entirely black with pink legs. Female brown above with contrasting grey crown and buffy below. Immature like female. Similar spp. Lesser Antillean Bullfinch Loxigilla noctis is larger, has smaller bill and lacks pink legs. Voice Rough tick-zwee-swisiwis-you with emphasis on second and last notes, slightly resembling Bananaquit Coereba flaveola. Hints Mainly terrestrial in leaf-litter of dense understorey. Bobs tail up and down.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Endangered C2a(ii) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2016
Date Assessed: 2016-10-01
Assessor(s): BirdLife International
Reviewer(s): Butchart, S. & Symes, A.
Contributor(s): Temple, H., Morton, M., Isidore, L., Dornelly, A. & Haynes, P.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Isherwood, I., Mahood, S., Pople, R., Sharpe, C J, Wege, D. & Wheatley, H.
This species qualifies as Endangered because it has a very small population; suitable habitat is declining through clearance for agriculture and introduced predators are also reducing numbers.

Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:Melanospiza richardsoni is endemic to St Lucia in the Lesser Antilles, where it is most numerous in the mountains (Bond 1979, Keith 1997). Surveys in 1987 failed to find any large populations and noted that much apparently suitable habitat was unoccupied (Keith 1997), although due to its broad habitat tolerance its range is probably not severely fragmented (H. Temple in litt. 2007).

Countries occurrence:
Saint Lucia
Additional data:
Continuing decline in area of occupancy (AOO):Yes
Extreme fluctuations in area of occupancy (AOO):NoEstimated extent of occurrence (EOO) - km2:380
Continuing decline in extent of occurrence (EOO):YesExtreme fluctuations in extent of occurrence (EOO):No
Number of Locations:11-100Continuing decline in number of locations:Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in the number of locations:No
Upper elevation limit (metres):800
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:The population is estimated to number 250-999 mature individuals based on an assessment of known records, descriptions of abundance and range size. This is consistent with recorded population density estimates for 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 375-1,499 individuals in total, rounded here to 350-1,500 individuals.

Trend Justification:  There are no new data on population trends, but the species is suspected to be in a slow decline owing to habitat degradation.
Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
Number of mature individuals:250-999Continuing decline of mature individuals:Yes
Extreme fluctuations:NoPopulation severely fragmented:No
No. of subpopulations:1Continuing decline in subpopulations:Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in subpopulations:NoAll individuals in one subpopulation:Yes
No. of individuals in largest subpopulation:100

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:It exhibits considerable ecological flexibility, inhabiting rainforest, forest edge, secondary vegetation, plantations, shrubbery, semi-arid scrub and woodland, up to 800 m (Bond 1979, Trail and Baptista 1989, Keith 1997). However, it has a preference for dense undergrowth, which is naturally found in ravines within moist montane forest (Keith 1997). Birds feed primarily on the ground on seeds, fruit and insects (Keith 1997). Nesting has been recorded in April-June.

Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat:Yes
Generation Length (years):3.8
Movement patterns:Not a Migrant

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The clearing of undergrowth, particularly in timber plantations, renders areas completely unsuitable for this species and is probably the major threat (Keith 1997). Introduced mongooses and rats may also predate eggs, nestlings and adults (Keith 1997). Feral pigs degrade or destroy the forest undergrowth used by this species and are perceived to have increased in numbers and continue to increase (M. Morton in litt., 2016).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Conservation Actions Underway
It occurs in a number of forest reserves, such as La Sorcière and Edmond (Raffaele et al. 1998).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Assess the species's current distribution and population, and use the results to design a conservation strategy. Curtail undergrowth clearing in plantations and other forested areas (Keith 1997). Control feral pigs, mongooses and other non-native predators (M. Morton in litt., 2016).

Classifications [top]

1. Forest -> 1.5. Forest - Subtropical/Tropical Dry
suitability:Suitable season:resident major importance:Yes
1. Forest -> 1.6. Forest - Subtropical/Tropical Moist Lowland
suitability:Suitable season:resident major importance:Yes
3. Shrubland -> 3.5. Shrubland - Subtropical/Tropical Dry
suitability:Suitable season:resident major importance:No
14. Artificial/Terrestrial -> 14.3. Artificial/Terrestrial - Plantations
suitability:Suitable season:resident major importance:No
2. Land/water management -> 2.1. Site/area management
2. Land/water management -> 2.2. Invasive/problematic species control

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
  Action Recovery plan:No
  Systematic monitoring scheme:No
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
  Conservation sites identified:Yes, over entire range
  Occur in at least one PA:Yes
  Invasive species control or prevention:No
In-Place Species Management
  Successfully reintroduced or introduced beningly:No
  Subject to ex-situ conservation:No
In-Place Education
  Subject to recent education and awareness programmes:No
  Included in international legislation:No
  Subject to any international management/trade controls:No
2. Agriculture & aquaculture -> 2.2. Wood & pulp plantations -> 2.2.3. Scale Unknown/Unrecorded
♦ timing:Ongoing ♦ scope:Majority (50-90%) ♦ severity:Slow, Significant Declines ⇒ Impact score:Medium Impact: 6 
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

8. Invasive and other problematic species, genes & diseases -> 8.1. Invasive non-native/alien species/diseases -> 8.1.2. Named species [ Sus scrofa ]
♦ timing:Ongoing ♦ scope:Unknown ♦ severity:Unknown ⇒ Impact score:Unknown 
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

8. Invasive and other problematic species, genes & diseases -> 8.1. Invasive non-native/alien species/diseases -> 8.1.2. Named species [ Herpestes javanicus_old ]
♦ timing:Ongoing ♦ scope:Majority (50-90%) ♦ severity:Unknown ⇒ Impact score:Unknown 
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.3. Indirect species effects -> 2.3.7. Reduced reproductive success

8. Invasive and other problematic species, genes & diseases -> 8.1. Invasive non-native/alien species/diseases -> 8.1.2. Named species [ Unspecified Rattus ]
♦ timing:Ongoing ♦ scope:Majority (50-90%) ♦ severity:Unknown ⇒ Impact score:Unknown 
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.3. Indirect species effects -> 2.3.7. Reduced reproductive success

1. Research -> 1.2. Population size, distribution & trends
2. Conservation Planning -> 2.1. Species Action/Recovery Plan

Bibliography [top]

Bond, J. 1979. Birds of the West Indies. Collins, London.

IUCN. 2016. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2016-3. Available at: (Accessed: 07 December 2016).

Keith, A. R. 1997. The birds of St Lucia, West Indies: an annotated check-list. British Ornithologists Union, Tring, UK.

Raffaele, H., Wiley, J., Garrido, O., Keith, A., and Raffaele, J. 1998. Birds of the West Indies. Christopher Helm, London.

Trail, P. W.; Baptista, L. F. 1989. The behaviour, status and relationships of the endemic St Lucia Black-finch. National Geographic Society Research Reports 5(1): 82-98.

Citation: BirdLife International. 2016. Melanospiza richardsoni. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T22723725A94830466. . Downloaded on 15 October 2018.
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