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This species is considered Endangered owing to its very small and severely fragmented population, which has continued to decline until very recently. However, trends appear to have stabilised or even reversed over the last five years.
43-51 cm. Medium-sized, stocky forest raptor. Adult, dark blue-grey upperparts with blackish cap, and barred rufous underparts. Immature, brown above, paler below, but with dark streaking. Rounded tail in flight.Similar spp. Sharp-shinned Hawk A. striatus is smaller and has squared tail in flight. Broad-winged HawkButeo platypterus is broader-winged and -tailed, and chunkier. Voice Loud kek-kek-kek ....
Distribution and population
Accipiter gundlachi has never been common, but formerly occurred throughout Cuba. It is now very rare and local, with five main population centres known to remain. The total population was estimated at 150-200 pairs in 1994. There are three centres for the nominate race in west and central Cuba, but two of these held only three and 20 pairs respectively in 1994. There are two further areas important for the race wileyi in the east of the island, where the bulk of the population resides. Sightings around Pico Turquino are scarce, but a bird was seen on the north slopes of the Sierra Maestra in early 1999 (Rompré et al. 2000).
The population is estimated to number c.400 individuals, equivalent to c.270 mature individuals.
There are no new data on trends; however, the species is suspected to still be slowly declining, owing mainly to habitat loss and persecution.
It is found up to 800 m in a variety of wooded habitats including humid, dry and pine forests (Bierregaard 1994a). It preys mostly on birds, including poultry. The breeding season is February-May, with young fledging by June (Bierregaard 1994a, A. Kirkconnell in litt. 1999). The nest is generally placed close to the trunk of a high tree, but below the canopy.
Habitat loss and disturbance as a result of logging and agricultural conversion, and human persecution (because it preys on poultry) have been the chief causes of its decline (A. Kirkconnell in litt. 2012).
Conservation actions underway
CITES Appendix II. Populations occur within the Sierra Maestra and Sierra del Cristal national parks. Environmental education has grown in Cuba in recent years (A. Kirkconnell in litt. 2012).
Conservation actions proposed
Survey Pinar del Río province and the Zapata swamp, and re-survey areas in eastern Cuba to determine current populations and assess trends. Further define the species's ecological requirements. Conduct education and public awareness campaigns to highlight the plight of the bird and discourage human persecution (A. Mitchell in litt. 1998).
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