Pirre warbler -- 王森莺 (Basileuterus ignotus)

Pirre warbler in habitat
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Pirre warbler fact file

Pirre warbler description

GenusBasileuterus (1)

A rare warbler occupying a tiny area on the border between Panama and Colombia, the pirre warbler (Basileuterus ignotus) is a distinctively-marked, largely olive bird. The crown is chestnut, with black margins, and the forehead is pale greenish-yellow, with a long, pale stripe above the eye (2) (3). The ear coverts are dusky olive (4), while the underparts are largely creamy-yellow, except for some greyish-olive on the breast (5)

The pirre warbler may also be identified by its song, which is a simple, high pitched, sputtering “tssi-i-i-tit(3).

Length: c. 13.5 cm (2)

Pirre warbler biology

A rare and little-studied species, very little is known about the biology and behaviour of the pirre warbler. However, like other birds of the family Parulidae, also known as the New World warblers or the wood warblers, the pirre warbler probably eats insects, which are gleaned off leaves or stems as its weaves its way through the foliage of bushes and trees. Fruit or flower nectar may also be consumed (6)

There is also almost nothing known about reproduction in the pirre warbler. However, New World warblers tend to be fiercely territorial during the breeding season. They typically form monogamous, but often polygamous, pairs, with the female doing most of the nest construction, as well as the incubation, which lasts for 10 to 14 days. The chicks usually remain in the nest for 8 to 12 days before fledging (6).


Pirre warbler range

With a very small range, estimated at no more than 180 square kilometres, the pirre warbler is only found on Alturas de Nique and Cerro Tacarcuna in Darién, Panama, and north-west Chocó, Colombia (2).


Pirre warbler habitat

Generally occurring between elevations of 1,350 and 1,650 metres, but sometimes as low as 1,200 metres, the pirre warbler inhabits the lower growth of humid elfin forest (2).


Pirre warbler status

The Pirre warbler is classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List (1).

IUCN Red List species status – Vulnerable


Pirre warbler threats

Although there are currently no known major threats to the pirre warbler, its extremely small range makes it vulnerable to habitat loss. Future human developments, including the construction of the Pan-American Highway, may threaten this species’ habitat. Forest in the region is currently being cleared and degraded by mining, agriculture and cultivation of coca (2).


Pirre warbler conservation

The majority of the range of the pirre warbler is contained within the Darién National Park, Panama, and this species also occurs in Katíos National Park, Colombia. However, habitat loss continues in these protected areas, although mostly at lower altitudes (2)

Recommended conservation measures for the pirre warbler include conservation management schemes to control activities threatening birds in Darién, further studies in the Panamanian part of its range, which has not been surveyed since the 1970s, and the creation of a protected area in the Colombian sector of Cerro Tacarcuna (2).


Find out more

Find out more about the pirre warbler:



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Small feathers concealing the bases of larger flight feathers, usually on the wings or tail.
Elfin forest
Type of tropical high altitude forest, growing on exposed sites in which the trees are dwarfed or gnarled.
The act of incubating eggs, that is, keeping them warm so that development is possible.
Having only one mate during a breeding season, or throughout the breeding life of a pair.
Mating with more than one partner in the same season.
Describes an animal, a pair of animals or a colony that occupies and defends an area.


  1. IUCN Red List (May, 2011)
  2. BirdLife International (May, 2011)
  3. Ridgely, R.S. and Tudor, G. (2009) Field Guide to the Songbirds of South America: The Passerines. University of Texas Press, Austin, Texas.
  4. Curson, J., Quinn, D. and Beadle, D. (1994) New World Warblers. Christopher Helm Publishers, London.
  5. Ridgely, R.S. and Tudor, G. (1989) The Birds of South America: The Oscine Passerines. Volume I.University of Texas Press, Austin, Texas.
  6. Perrins, C. (2009) The Encyclopedia of Birds. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Image credit

Pirre warbler in habitat  
Pirre warbler in habitat

© Stephen J. Davies

Stephen J. Davies
Tel: +1 (301) 395 0519


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