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ASH-BREASTED TIT TYRANT } Anairetes alpinus


RANGE: Peru, Bolivia

STATUS: The World Conservation Union lists the tit tyrant as Endangered because of its very small, fragmented, and declining occupied range and population. The International Council for Bird Preservation petitioned to list this species as Threatened or Endangered under the Endangered Species Act in 1991.

THREATS: Heavy grazing and loss of forests from erosion caused by agricultural intensification and deforestation

Don’t hold his name against him. The ash-breasted tit tyrant — smoke-colored and sporting a jaunty crest — lives in semi-arid woodlands tucked into the Peruvian-Bolivian borderlands high in the Andes. Two distinct populations are dispersed over this majestic landscape: one subspecies congregates in the Cordilleras Central and Occidental, Peru, while anotheroccurs in the Cordillera Oriental, Peru, and the Cordillera Real, Bolivia. The combined population is estimated at between 250 and 999 birds, and declining. Sure, it’s a respectable number of friends to have in MySpace. For a bird species? It’s dismal. Thanks to heavy grazing and uncontrolled use of fire, which prevents Polylepis forest regeneration — not to mention the intensification of agriculture and grazing in the area — the only places that ash-breasted tit tyrants are commonly found are in the Runtacocha highland, Apurimac, and the Cordillera Vilcabamba, Cuzco. They are extremely rare elsewhere in their historic ranges.