Oilbird Steatornis caripensis

  • Order: Caprimulgiformes
  • Family: Steatornithidae
  • Monotypic
  • Authors: AndrĂ©s A. del Risco and Alejandra Echeverri del Risco and Alejandra Echeverri


Conservation Status

This species has an extremely large range (1,040,000 km2) even if it is patchily distributed (Bosque 2002). Therefore is designated as of Least Concern in terms of conservation priority (Birdlife International 2010). The population estimate is about 100.000-499.999 individuals but the trend appears to be decreasing. But, this decrease is not at a rate that makes the species qualify for the designation of Vulnerable (Birdlife International 2010).

Its highly specialized diet and large home range makes this species vulnerable to deforestation (Bosque 2002). In Colombia, the Oilbird is not considered threatened but there is only one protected area that includes a colony of Oilbirds (Parque Nacional Cueva de los Guácharos), and the region where most colonies exist lacks protection (Gonzalez-Quevedo et al. 2010). The species receives legal protection in several parks and conservation areas in South America (Bosque 2002).

Effects of human activity on populations

Nestlings of Steatornis caripensis are a rich source of oil, which represents energy and protein to humans. Thus, juveniles of Oilbirds were widely captured and used for lamp oil before the twenty-first century, at a time when they were not protected (Bosque 2002). Today, humans represent a threat by way of deforestation and the consequent loss of suitable Oilbird habitat. In Colombia, Oilbirds can be found throughout the middle Magdalena River drainage in the departments of Antioquia and Santander. In 1998, the forests in the middle Magdalena River drainage already had been reduced by 35% (Etter et al. 2006). The deforestation rate in this place over the past two decades has been 158,4 km2/year (Melo and Ochoa 2002). This deforestation has been associated with limitations of dispersing while foraging, habitat fragmentation leading to a more patchily distribution, and increased dispersal or gene flow among caves due to their improved search for food resources (Gonzalez-Quevedo et al. 2010).

Recommended Citation

del Risco, A. A. d. R. a. A. E. and A. Echeverri (2011). Oilbird (Steatornis caripensis), version 1.0. In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/nb.oilbir1.01