Cherry-throated tanager

South America


Nemosia rourei


The decimation of its forest habitat to make way for plantations and quarries is the reason why this species is almost driven into extinction.

The Cherry-Throated Tanager can only be found in limited forest areas of Brazil. Its most distinct physical feature is its striking plumage of white, black, and red although the females and juveniles can be identified with its red and brown throat patch, respectively. All adults have black wings and tails although its primary and secondary wing coverts are blue. The equally black-hued upper tail coverts contain white tips that are believed to a communication signals to other birds.

This bird has been classified as critically endangered by BirdLife International, with an estimated population of between 30 and 200 adult birds and a distribution size of just 31 km2 (12 sq mi). From field data, presently only some 14-20 individuals are known, some of them juvenile, but the continuing existence of this very rare bird for over 100 years suggests further populations await discovery. The major threat to its survival is deforestation leading to further and further habitat fragmentation and which can reduce habitat to a point where it is too small in extent for a viable population of this species. As with many Atlantic Forest endemics, it seems to have been a rare bird even before the onset of widespread habitat destruction, but why this is so remains unknown.