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RANGE: Brazil

STATUS: The World Conservation Union lists the fringe-backed fire-eye as Critically Endangered.

THREATS: Habitat loss

This rare Brazilian songbird is getting much, much rarer — and fast. Only between 250 and 1,000 birds remain in the wild, and the population is declining. We don’t yet have a complete picture of how the fringe-backed fire-eye lives. But we know all too well how it’s dying out: habitat loss. The fire-eye is now restricted to the vicinity of Salvador, coastal Bahia, and south Sergipe. The remaining birds appear to favor the tangled undergrowth of lowland forests and other semi-open habitats. The reason? It’s easier to find horizontal perches near the ground. The fringe-backed fire-eye is now protected under Brazilian law. The International Council for Bird Preservation petitioned to list it as Threatened or Endangered under the Endangered Species Act in 1991.

Photo by Arthur Grosset