VIDEO: Kinglet Calyptura - The Lost Jewel of the Atlantic Forest by Guy Kirwan

February 3, 2023
Kinglet Calyptura

Thanks for joining us for our webinar, Kinglet Calyptura – The Lost Jewel of the Atlantic Forest by Guy Kirwan on 15 February. If you’d like to revisit Guy’s presentation, or if you missed it the first time, you can watch the recording here. If you want to delve deeper into the natural history of this elusive species, you can head over to the Kinglet Calyptura Birds of the World account.

This is the third of our Birds of the World Discovery Series webinars. If you would like to check out our past webinars, they can be found under the News section of our website.


Kinglet Calyptura (Calyptura cristata) is one of the greatest enigmas of the South American avifauna.  A tyrannid that looks like a kinglet, the species is endemic to a small area of south-east Brazil in the Atlantic Forest biome. The species was first described by Vieillot in 1818 and conventional wisdom suggests that it went unobserved between at least c.1890 and 1996, when it was briefly rediscovered in submontane forest above Rio de Janeiro (Pacheco and da Fonseca, 2001). Since then, C. cristata has been reported several times, but without documentation and always by single observers. It is currently considered Critically Endangered by BirdLife International and various authors have speculated that the species might already be extinct.

In this webinar, Guy Kirwan describes his painstaking museum research for Kinglet Calyptura, which included more than 100 specimens, mostly in European collections, almost doubling previous estimates made in the literature. Several are held in relatively small institutions, thereby suggesting that yet more specimens might still be identified. From analysis of this large sample of material, Guy discusses the morphology of the kinglet.


About Guy Kirwan

Guy is a prolific bird life history author, having worked on two print volumes of the Handbook of the Birds of the World, updated or wrote more than 3,300 species accounts for HBW Alive, producing some of the first texts for Neotropical Birds, and written papers, monographs, field guides, and other bird books. Guy now serves as Associate Editor for Birds of the World, where he continues to update and revise species accounts at a rapid pace. Guy was born in northwest England and has been watching birds for 40-plus years. He has conducted ornithological field research in Turkey, Yemen and Socotra, Brazil, and Cuba, and has published widely in the technical literature on birds. Following ten years living part-time in Brazil, he is again residing in Norwich, in eastern England. He is also a Scientific Associate of the Bird Group, at the Natural History Museum, Tring, and maintains professional associations with the Field Museum of Natural History, in Chicago, and the Museu Nacional in Rio de Janeiro.