Alagoas Foliage-gleaner (Philydor novaesi)
Justification This species is confined to one site containing extremely small and fragmented patches of severely threatened forest. Unless there is urgent conservation action, this Critical species will become extinct very shortly.
Identification 18 cm. Plain rufous-brown furnariid. Dull ochraceous forehead and lores, scaled black. Blackish-brown crown, scaled dark olive-brown. Narrow buffy-cinnamon supercilium and subocular stripe. Dull chestnut eye-stripe. Blackish stripe from mandible to auriculars, spotted chestnut. Olivaceous-chestnut nape and rest of upperparts. More rufous rump and tail. Pale rufous underparts, tinged olive on sides of belly and crissum. Similar spp. Black-capped Foliage-gleaner P. atricapillus is much more rufous with darker head pattern. Voice Slightly descending series of whistles uü-uü-uü and a thürr alarm call.
POPULATION ESTIMATE 50-250
Range & Population Philydor novaesi has only ever been recorded at Murici in Alagoas, north-east Brazil. It was first discovered in 1979, when it was described as relatively conspicuous and easy to locate. Subsequent surveys have found the species to be rare, and there were no confirmed records between 1992 and 1998. Single individuals were found in 1998 and 1999, and four birds in 2000, indicating that the species is (barely) extant.
Ecology It inhabits interior upland forest at 400-550 m, from the understorey to the subcanopy, and has been observed in selectively logged and old secondary forests. Birds have been found singly, in pairs or small groups, and often join mixed-species flocks, including Lesser Woodcreeper Lepidocolaptes fuscus. Food is gleaned from leaves, bark, crevices and debris, and consists of insects, including larvae taken from dead wood, beetles, grasshoppers and ants. There is little breeding information, but an immature was collected in January and birds in February were moulting.Threats Forest at Murici has been reduced from 70 km in the 1970s, to c.30 km of highly disturbed and fragmented habitat in 1999, largely as a result of logging and conversion to sugarcane plantations and pastureland. In January 1999, new logging roads were evident and such forest fragments are severely threatened by fires spreading from adjacent plantations. The massive clearance of Atlantic forest in Alagoas has left few other sites likely to support populations of this species.
Action It is protected under Brazilian law. Land at Murici remains privately-owned and a number of conservation initiatives have so far failed to halt forest loss.