Ochraceous attila (Attila torridus)

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Ochraceous attila among foliage
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Ochraceous attila fact file

Ochraceous attila description

KingdomAnimalia
PhylumChordata
ClassAves
OrderPasseriformes
FamilyTyrannidae
GenusAttila (1)

The ochraceous attila (Attila torridus) is a large and visually striking flycatcher whose name is derived from its distinctive yellow-orange appearance. The male and female both have a yellow rump and belly, black wings and a black, hooked beak (4) (5).

The ochraceous attila falls within the order Passeriformes, also known as the ‘perching birds’, and it is a member of the Tyrannidae family of flycatchers, being one of 400 species in this group (6).

This flycatcher is easily identified by its hollow and whistled call, which is louder than that of similar species. The ochraceous attila’s clear whistle is down-slurred and has been likened to that of the black hawk-eagle (Spizaetus tyrannus) (6). The call sounds like a ‘whoeeeer’, sometimes changing to a sharp ‘wheek’ or ‘keek(4).

The closest relative of the ochraceous attila is the cinnamon attila (Attila cinnamomeus), with whom it shares many similarities, such as nestling appearance (7).

Size
Length: 20.5 cm (2)
Average weight: 46 g (3)
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Ochraceous attila biology

The ochraceous attila is usually found alone or as a pair, although some individuals occasionally gather together at fruiting trees where they glean foliage and twigs for insects and fruit (3).

It is thought that the ochraceous attila breeds from January to March, during the rainy season (3). Although the breeding behaviour of this species is not well studied, it is known to construct a broad, shallow nest two metres above the ground using dried, reddish-brown moss (7).

The eggs of the ochraceous atilla are reported to be whitish-cream with red and lavender speckles. The ochraceous atilla hatchlings are pinkish-grey and covered in short, sparse, grey down, giving them a speckled appearance. This is thought to camouflage the chicks among the patterns created by light filtering through the forest canopy (7).

Both the male and female ochraceous attila care for the hatchlings and provide insect prey such as long-horned beetles and grasshoppers, as well as vertebrates including frogs and lizards (7).

The adult ochraceous attilas are rarely seen at the nest together; as one adult arrives, the other usually departs. This action is thought to be a predator deterrent, as the leaving individual distracts attention away from the nest (7).

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Ochraceous attila range

The ochraceous attila has a very restricted range and is mainly found in west Ecuador on the western slope of Cordillera de Celica mountains, Loja. It is also known from north-west Peru, and in Colombia there is a single record from Nariño observed in 1958 (2).

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Ochraceous attila habitat

The ochraceous attila prefers humid or semi-humid forest, although it may occasionally be found in cocoa plantations (8). In Daule, Ecuador, it is known to inhabit deciduous forest, at least during the rainy season (2).

The ochraceous attila is more commonly found at elevations of up to 1,000 metres, but near Alamor in the Cordillera de Celica mountainsit may live above 1,700 metres (3).

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Ochraceous attila status

The ochraceous attila is classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List (1).

IUCN Red List species status – Vulnerable

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Ochraceous attila threats

The ochraceous attila population has diminished rapidly since 1960 due to deforestation which has restricted its range and fragmented the forest habitat. In west Ecuador, only 4 percent of the original forest cover below 900 metres remains, and most of the destruction has occurred in the last 50 years (2).

Disturbance by agriculture also has an impact on the habitat of the ochraceous Attila through heavy grazing by goats and cattle, particularly in deciduous forests. Unfortunately, even protected areas may be illegally cleared and used for agriculture by individuals with land rights (2).

Habitat fragmentation in the Cordillera de Celica mountains has occurred to such an extent that few patches of forest larger than 50 hectares remain. The rate of habitat loss is still being maintained, and as a result the ochraceous Attila population is thought to be declining (2) (3).

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Ochraceous attila conservation

The ochraceous attila’s range includes two large protected areas: Machalilla National Park, Ecuador, and Tumbes National Forest, Peru. This species may also occur in smaller reserves such as Río Palenque, Ecuador, however reserves of this size are unlikely to support a viable ochraceous attila population. A new protected area is being proposed in Manta Real, Azuay, but the ochraceous attila is uncommon in this region (3).

Future initiatives should prioritise the long-term survival of existing protected areas, particularly the Machilla National Park which not only supports a healthy ochraceous attila population, but provides essential habitat to many other threatened species (3).

View information on this species at the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre.
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Find out more

Learn more about the ochraceous attila and other bird species:

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Authentication

This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact:
arkive@wildscreen.org.uk

This species information was authored as part of the ARKive and Universities Scheme.
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Glossary

Deciduous forest
Forest consisting mainly of deciduous trees, which shed their leaves at the end of the growing season.
Gleaning
The catching of prey by plucking from, or within foliage.
Order
A category used in taxonomy, which is below ‘class’ and above ‘family’. All members of an order have characteristics in common.
Vertebrates
Animals with a backbone, including mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish.
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References

  1. IUCN Red List (January, 2012)
    http://www.iucnredlist.org/
  2. BirdLife International (January, 2012)
    http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/speciesfactsheet.php?id=4367&m=1
  3. BirdLife International (1992) Threatened Birds of the Americas. Available at:
    http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/userfiles/file/Species/AmRDBPDFs/Attila_torridus_eng.pdf
  4. del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A. and Sargatal, J. (2004) Handbook of the Birds of the World. Volume 9: Cotingas to Pipits and Wagtails. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.
  5. Ochraceous attila (Attila torridus). In: Schulenberg, T.S. (Ed.) Neotropical Birds Online. Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca. Available at:
    http://neotropical.birds.cornell.edu/portal/species/overview?p_p_spp=472396
  6. Parker, T.A.I., Schulenberg, T.S., Kessler, M. & Wust, W.H. (1995) Natural history and conservation of the endemic avifauna in north-west Peru. Bird Conservation International, 5(2-3): 201-231.
  7. Greeney, H.F. (2006) The nest and eggs of the ochraceous attila Attila torridus in south-west Ecuador with notes on parental care. Cotinga, 25: 56-58.
  8. Robbins, M.B. and Ridgely, R.S. (1990) The avifauna of an upper tropical cloud forest in southwestern Ecuador. Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, 142: 59-71.
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Image credit

Ochraceous attila among foliage  
Ochraceous attila among foliage

© Charles Hesse

Charles Hesse
fringe_backed_fire_eye@yahoo.com
http://www.flickr.com/photos/12007842@N05/

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