A Splash of Hope: Cherry-throated Tanager Gets New Protected Area in Bid to Dodge Extinction

Conservationists estimate only 17 birds may remain

Media Contact: Jordan Rutter, Director of Public Relations| jerutter@abcbirds.org | @JERutter

The Cherry-throated Tanager has a shot at defying extinction, thanks to a new protected area in Brazil's Atlantic Forest that provides crucial habitat. Photo by Ciro Albano

(Washington, D.C., December 20, 2021) A partnership among Rainforest Trust, American Bird Conservancy (ABC), and Brazilian conservation organization Instituto Marcos Daniel has established a 704-acre protected area of primary Brazilian Atlantic Forest – the latest success in the organizations' work to save the last populations of the Critically Endangered Cherry-throated Tanager from extinction.

The Cherry-throated Tanager had only been seen once after its discovery in 1870 and was believed to be extinct until 1998, when a small population was rediscovered in the Brazilian Atlantic Forest. The bird spends the majority of its life high in the rainforest canopy, searching for insects among the branches. Rampant agricultural conversion has forced it to live in highly fragmented habitat that is now also threatened by urban encroachment. Conservationists estimate that only 17 individual birds may remain.

“Securing critical habitat for the Cherry-throated Tanager is both an occasion for celebration and a cause for optimism,” says Bennett Hennessey, ABC's Brazil Conservation Program Coordinator. “If we can save this tanager, which was unseen for many years but is now regularly spotted and surveyed, then we can save other imperiled species whose appearances have become less frequent. We aim to replicate this success across the Americas.”

The region is a prime location and priority for bird conservation. In addition to the Cherry-throated Tanager, the Endangered Vinaceous-breasted Amazon and several Vulnerable species — the White-bearded Antshrike, Golden-tailed Parrotlet, and Brown-backed Parrotlet — are all found in the same area. The site also provides essential habitat for the Critically Endangered Buffy-headed Marmoset; populations of the little-known and Near Threatened Brazilian Golden Frog are also in the area.

“Protecting the birds of Brazil has been a conservation priority for Rainforest Trust for many years,” says James Deutsch, CEO of Rainforest Trust. “Not only is this critically important habitat by its own right but it also plays an important role in increasing connectivity with nearby reserves for birds and other animals.”

Now that the land is protected, Instituto Marcos Daniel will develop a strategic plan for species conservation, including monitoring Cherry-throated Tanager populations. This reserve will open a path to protect the entire forested area for all species. A financial sustainability plan will also be developed for the reserve, featuring public use for birdwatching activities, scientific tourism and research, and a hotel to host visitors from around the world.

“The Cherry-throated Tanager is one of the rarest birds on the planet. It is hugely gratifying to collaborate in partnership with other groups like Rainforest Trust and Instituto Marcos Daniel to conserve this and other endangered species,” says Daniel Lebbin, ABC's Vice President of Threatened Species.

“We're excited to be able to continue to monitor this region and record the numbers of birds and other animals — and hopefully watch a comeback of many threatened species,” Rainforest Trust's Deutsch added.

ABC would like to acknowledge support for this project from David and Patricia Davidson, George and Cathy Ledec, Kathy Burger, Marcia Rebmann, Lenton PARKS Fund, Larry Thompson, George Powell, George Jett, Bert Harris, an anonymous donor, and the estate of Mary Janvrin.


American Bird Conservancy is a nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving wild birds and their habitats throughout the Americas. With an emphasis on achieving results and working in partnership, we take on the greatest problems facing birds today, innovating and building on rapid advancements in science to halt extinctions, protect habitats, eliminate threats, and build capacity for bird conservation. Find us on abcbirds.org, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter (@ABCbirds).

Since 1988, Rainforest Trust has been safeguarding imperiled tropical habitats and saving endangered species by establishing protected areas in partnership with local organizations and communities. With its partners, Rainforest Trust has safeguarded more than 37 million acres of vital habitat across Latin America, Africa, Asia and the Pacific. Rainforest Trust is a nonprofit organization that relies upon the generous support of the public to successfully implement its important conservation action. The organization is proud of earning a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator. Learn more about the work of Rainforest Trust by visiting www.rainforesttrust.org, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok or Facebook.

Marcos Daniel Institute is a private non-profit association located in Vitória, Espírito Santo, Brazil. Since 2004 it has been developing research and biodiversity conservation projects, consolidating itself as a training center for talents on nature conservation based on the concepts of One World – One Health, which understand it as the interaction between human, animal and environmental health. IMD develops and execute of biodiversity conservation projects, with an emphasis on environmental education, seeking community involvement in conservation actions. Currently, IMD runs 6 main projects focusing on endangered species, creation of reserves, environmental education and scientific communication in the sea and Atlantic Forest Biome. Visit: www.imd.org.br, Instagram or Facebook.