Puerto Rican Tody Todus mexicanus

  • Order: Coraciiformes
  • Family: Todidae
  • Monotypic
  • Authors: Aleshia Fremgen


Conservation Status

Puerto Rican Tody is listed as a species of Least Concern on the IUCN Red List (BirdLife International 2013). Although the entire population has not been estimated, it is described as common and does not appear to be declining sufficiently rapidly to be listed as Vulnerable (BirdLife International 2013). Puerto Rican Tody is one of the most common species in parts of Puerto Rico; in a study using spot maps it was the fourth most abundant bird in Puerto Rico, following Bananaquit (Coereba flaveola), Black-whiskered Vireo (Vireo altiloquus), and Scaly-naped Pigeon (Patagioenas squamosa) (Waide 1996).

The conservation status of Puerto Rican Tody may merit renewed scrutiny, however. The abundance of terrestrial arthropods at one site (the Luquillo forest) apparently has declined precipitously between surveys in 1976 and in 2012 (Lister and Garcia 2018). The causes of this decline are not known, but climate warming is suspected to be the principal contributing factor (Lister and Garcia 2018). Furthermore, mist net capture rates for Puerto Rican Tody declined by 90% over the period from 1990 to 2015, suggesting that the population of todies also is in steep decline, consistent with a great reduction in available food (Lister and Garcia 2018).

Effects of human activity on populations

The population may be in decline from predation by introduced Indian mongooses (Herpestes mungo) and from habitat destruction (BirdLife International 2013). Coffee is a large portion of Puerto Rico's crop exports, with production shifting in the last several decades towards sun plantations instead of shade plantations to increase yields; increasing land has been devoted to sun coffee production (Borkhataria et al. 2012). Puerto Rican Tody, however, also was more abundant in shade coffee plantations than coffee grown in the sun (Borkhataria et al. 2012). A more worrisome concern is that there is increasing evidence of drastic declines in terrestrial arthropods, leading to population declines of insectivorous birds, including Puerto Rican Tody (Lister and Garcia 2018). If, as suspected, these arthropod declines are linked to climate change, then the future may be very uncertain for many species, even those previously not considered to be at risk.

Recommended Citation

Fremgen, A. (2018). Puerto Rican Tody (Todus mexicanus), version 2.0. In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/nb.purtod1.02