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For Immediate Release, December 28, 2010

Contact: Justin Augustine, (415) 436-9682 x 302

Seven Imperiled Brazilian Bird Species Gain Endangered Status

SAN FRANCISCO— In response to decades-old listing petitions and a series of lawsuits by the Center for Biological Diversity, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today designated seven Brazilian bird species as endangered under the U.S. Endangered Species Act: the black-hooded antwren, Brazilian merganser, cherry-throated tanager, fringe-backed fire-eye, Kaempfer’s tody-tyrant, Margaretta’s hermit and southeastern rufous-vented ground-cuckoo.

A campaign to protect scores of the world’s most imperiled bird species started in the 1980s, when concerned ornithologists began submitting Endangered Species Act petitions to protect more than 70 international bird species. Although the Fish and Wildlife Service had determined that most of the species warranted listing by 1994, it illegally delayed responding to the petitions. Center for Biological Diversity lawsuits in 2004 and 2006 jumpstarted the foreign-species listing program, and in 2008 the Service published listing proposals for five birds and determined that 45 other foreign bird species warranted listing. Following another Center lawsuit in 2009, the Service agreed to publish listing proposals for 25 of the 45 species, including the seven Brazilian birds that received final listing rules today.

Listing international species under the U.S. Endangered Species Act restricts buying and selling of imperiled wildlife, increases conservation funding and attention, and can add scrutiny to development projects proposed by U.S. government and multilateral lending agencies such as the World Bank that would destroy or alter their habitat.

“Protecting these species under the Endangered Species Act will give them a better chance of survival, and it will help attract worldwide attention to the urgent plight of these animals,” said Justin Augustine, staff attorney at the Center. “We hope the Obama administration continues to undo the significant backlog of foreign species that deserve protection but have yet to receive it.”

Background on the seven Brazilian birds
(See Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Listing Seven Brazilian Bird Species as Endangered Throughout Their Range, 75 Fed. Reg. 81794)

Black-hooded antwren (Formicivora erythronotos)

The black-hooded antwren is endemic to the Atlantic Forest biome in the southeast portion of the state of Rio de Janeiro. Current population estimates for the species put its numbers at only 1,000 to 2,500. The species is considered to be declining rapidly due to continued loss of habitat.

Brazilian merganser (Mergus octosetaceus)

The Brazilian merganser has a distinctive green crest and is highly adapted to mountainous, clear-water streams and rivers that are typically bordered by evergreen forests. Currently the species is found in extremely low numbers, with estimates ranging between 50 and 249 individuals. Historically, the Brazilian merganser occurred in Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay.

Cherry-throated tanager (Nemosia rourei)

The cherry-throated tanager is endemic to the Atlantic Forest in southeast Brazil, and was presumed to be extinct until 1998. Current population estimates put the species at between 50 and 250 individuals, and it is believed to be declining. Cherry-throated tanagers inhabit the upper canopies of trees within humid, montane primary forests at elevations between 2,800 and 4,100 feet.

Fringe-backed fire-eye (Pyriglena atra)

The fringe-backed fire-eye gets its name from its distinctive red eyes. It is endemic to the Atlantic Forest biome and typically inhabits dense understory of lowland primary tropical forests. The fringe-backed fire-eye’s population is estimated to be between 1,000 and 2,500 individuals. Its numbers, as well as the extent and quality of its habitat, continue to decline.

Kaempfer’s tody-tyrant (Hemitriccus kaempferi)

The Kaempfer’s tody-tyrant is a small olive-green bird and is a member of the flycatcher family. It is endemic to the Atlantic Forest biome and inhabits well-shaded edges of primary and secondary-growth forests that are typically near rivers. Population estimates put the species at between 9,000 and 18,500 individuals, and it is believed to be declining.

Margaretta’s hermit (Phaethornis malaris margarettae)

The Margaretta’s hermit is a long-billed hummingbird. It is endemic to the Atlantic Forest biome and is found in shrubby understories of primary- and secondary-growth tropical lowland rainforest. The current population of Margaretta's hermit is unknown, although it is likely to be small in light of the very limited area the subspecies may occupy.

Southeastern rufous-vented ground cuckoo (Neomorphus geoffroyi dulcis)

The southeastern rufous-vented ground cuckoo is an extremely shy, ground-foraging bird that requires large blocks of mature, undisturbed, tropical lowland forest within the Atlantic Forest biome. This species is unable to sustain flight for long distances, and researchers believe that major rivers and other extensive areas of nonhabitat impede their movements. The last confirmed sighting of this subspecies was in 1977, and the subspecies was then thought to be extinct. However, a recent photographic record (circa 2004) indicates that the subspecies may still occur at Doce River State Park.

Read about the Center's International Birds Initiative.

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