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White-tailed Shrike-tyrant Agriornis albicauda
BirdLife is updating this factsheet for the 2016 Red List
Please email us with any relevant information

This species qualifies as Vulnerable because it is assumed to have a small population, which is fragmented and likely to be declining. However, further surveys may find the species at additional locations which, given its extensive range and apparent degree of habitat tolerance, could result in a downlisting to Near Threatened or Least Concern.

Taxonomic source(s)
SACC. 2006. A classification of the bird species of South America. Available at: #

Taxonomic note
Use of the specific name albicauda follows SACC (2007).

Agriornis albicauda Collar et al. (1994), Agriornis andicola BirdLife International (2004), Agriornis andicola BirdLife International (2000), Agriornis andicola Sibley and Monroe (1990, 1993), Agriornis andicola BirdLife International (2006), Agriornis andicola Stotz et al. (1996)

25 cm. Large, greyish-brown tyrant. Dark greyish-brown above, darker on wings. Inconspicuous pale supercilium. White throat heavily streaked blackish. Pale grey-brown breast and flanks. Pale centre to belly. White tail except for dark greyish-brown central rectrices. Heavy, dark bill. Similar spp. Black-billed Shrike-tyrant A. montana is slightly smaller, with less conspicuous streaking on throat, and much thinner and less stout bill.

Distribution and population
Agriornis albicauda occurs in the high Andes from Ecuador to northern Chile and Argentina, but the population is small and probably declining. Subspecies andicola occurs in Ecuador (Imbabura, Pichincha, Napo, Chimborazo, Cañar, Zamora-Chinchipe and Loja provinces), and was found at four new sites in 1995-1999 (Krabbe et al. 1996, Howell and Webb in prep., J. Fjeldså in litt. 1999, N. Simpson in litt. 2000). The nominate subspecies albicauda occurs in Peru (Cajamarca, La Libertad, Huánuco, Ancash, Pasco, Cuzco, Lima, Arequipa and Ayacucho) with 16 records since 1952 (Clements 1998, N. Simpson in litt. 2000, Begazo et al. 2001, D. Geale in litt. 2005, M. Ugarte-Lewis in litt. 2005); Bolivia, where there are records from La Paz in 1941, Oruro in 1967 and 1991, Potosí in 1967, Chusquisaca in 1991 (Fjeldså and Mayer 1996) and Cochabamba in 1997 (Herzog et al. 1999); north Chile in Tarapacá and Antofagasta, with recent records from the precordillera and altiplanos of Arica (Howell and Webb 1995b, Howell and Webb in prep.), and north-west Argentina in Sierra de Aconquija and Tucumán, with one record from Catamarca in 1918 (Chebez 1994, Blendinger 1998, H. Povedano in litt. 1999).

Population justification
This species is poorly known. It appears to be very rare to rare and very local throughout its range. Collar et al. (1992) described it as exceedingly rare. Given this, the total population is estimated to fall below 10,000 individuals, despite its large range. It is placed in the band 2,500-9,999 individuals, equating to 1,667-6,666 mature individuals, rounded here to 1,500-7,000 mature individuals. Further information is required to validate this however.

Trend justification
Trends have not been well documented, but the species appears to be declining for poorly understood reasons (B. Knapton in litt. 2003), being scarce in areas even in areas where it was formerly described as relatively numerous (e.g. Ridgely and Tudor 1994). In Ecuador, there has been "an apparently precipitous drop in numbers" (Ridgely and Greenfield 2001).

It was thought to exclusively inhabit the páramo and puna zones, high above the treeline at 3,500-4,300 m. However, in south Ecuador, it has been found in semi-arid, bushy country, especially in areas with large Puyas, at 2,400-3,100 m  (Krabbe et al. 1996). It favours open areas with sparse vegetation and scattered rocks, particularly near old buildings and walls (Ridgely and Tudor 1994, Vuilleumier 1994), and has been recorded from rocky Polylepis groves (Vuilleumier 1994). There are two records from open farmland with hedgerows and introduced Eucalyptus trees (Krabbe et al. 1996, N. Simpson in litt. 2000), one from agricultural land (crops and pasture) with introduced pine trees (M. Ugarte-Lewis in litt. 2005), and one from cactus scrub with Eucalyptus (B. Knapton in litt. 2003).

The reasons for this species's scarcity are unclear. Open (albeit modified) grassland habitats have been expanding for centuries owing to burning and grazing (Fjeldså and Kessler 1996, Kessler and Herzog 1998, T. S. Schulenberg in litt. 1999). It may historically have been out-competed by A. montana, and this may continue (B. Knapton in litt. 2003), although the two have coexisted for at least a million years (T. S. Schulenberg in litt. 1999). It could be unusually predator-prone (Krabbe et al. 1996). However, such threats provide unlikely explanations for the species's rarity.

Conservation Actions Underway
There are recent records from Huascarán National Park, Peru, and Lauca National Park, Chile.Conservation Actions Proposed
Monitor known populations. Survey to identify additional populations. Study the ecology to establish threats, perhaps at Lauca, Chile, or in Azuay and Loja, Ecuador.

Begazo, A.J., Valqui, T., Sokol, M. and Langlois, E. 2001. Notes on some birds from central and northern Peru. Cotinga 15: 81-87.

Blendinger, P. G. 1998. Sección observaciones de campo: petrel gigante oscuro Macronectes halli. Nuestras Aves 38: 5-8.

Chebez, J. C. 1994. Los que se van: especies argentinas en peligro. Albatros, Buenos Aires.

Clements, J. F. 1998. Report on a birding trip to the southern Andes of Peru.

Collar, N. J.; Gonzaga, L. P.; Krabbe, N.; Madroño Nieto, A.; Naranjo, L. G.; Parker, T. A.; Wege, D. C. 1992. Threatened birds of the Americas: the ICBP/IUCN Red Data Book. International Council for Bird Preservation, Cambridge, U.K.

Fjeldså, J.; Kessler, M. 1996. Conserving the biological diversity of Polylepis woodlands of the highland of Peru and Bolivia. NORDECO, Copenhagen.

Fjeldså, J.; Mayer, S. 1996. Recent ornithological surveys in the Valles region, southern Bolivia and the possible role of Valles for the evolution of the Andean avifauna.

Herzog, S. K.; Fjeldså, J.; Kessler, M.; Balderrama, J. A. 1999. Ornithological surveys in the Cordillera Cocapata, depto Cochabamba, Bolivia, a transition zone between humid and dry intermontane Andean habitats. Bulletin of the British Ornithologists' Club 119: 162-177.

Howell, S.; Webb, S. 1995. Noteworthy bird observations from Chile. Bulletin of the British Ornithologists' Club 115: 57-66.

Howell, S.N. G.; Webb, S. in prep.. A guide to the birds of Chile.

Kessler, M.; Herzog, S. K. 1998. Conservation status in Bolivia of timberline habitats, elfin forest and their birds. Cotinga 10: 50-54.

Krabbe, N. 1994. Focus on: the White-tailed Shrike-tyrant, an extinction prone species? Cotinga: 33-34.

Krabbe, N.; Poulsen, B. O.; Frylander, A.; Rodriguez, O. 1996. New observations of the White-tailed Shrike-tyrant Agriornis andicola in southern Ecuador. Cotinga: 27-28.

Ridgely, R. S.; Greenfield, P. J. 2001. The birds of Ecuador: status, distribution and taxonomy. Cornell University Press and Christopher Helm, Ithaca and London.

Ridgely, R. S.; Tudor, G. 1994. The birds of South America. University of Texas Press, Austin, Texas.

Vuilleumier, F. 1994. Nesting, behavior, distribution, and speciation of Patagonian and Andean ground tyrants (Myiotheretes, Xolmis, Neoxolmis, Agriornis, and Muscisaxicola). Ornitologia Neotropical 5(1): 1-55.

Further web sources of information
Detailed species account from the Threatened birds of the Americas: the BirdLife International Red Data Book (BirdLife International 1992). Please note taxonomic treatment and IUCN Red List category may have changed since publication.

Detailed species account from the Threatened birds of the Americas: the BirdLife International Red Data Book (BirdLife International 1992). Please note, taxonomic treatment and IUCN Red List category may have changed since publication.

Explore HBW Alive for further information on this species

Recuento detallado de la especie tomado del libro Aves Amenazadas de las Americas, Libro Rojo de BirdLife International (BirdLife International 1992). Nota: la taxonomoía y la categoría de la Lista Roja de la UICN pudo haber cambiado desde esta publicación.

View photos and videos and hear sounds of this species from the Internet Bird Collection

Text account compilers
Benstead, P., Capper, D., Harding, M., Mazar Barnett, J., O'Brien, A., Sharpe, C J, Symes, A., Temple, H., Khwaja, N.

Fjeldså, J., Geale, D., Knapton, B., Povedano, H., Schulenberg, T., Simpson, N., Ugarte-Lewis, M., Krabbe, N.

IUCN Red List evaluators
Butchart, S., Symes, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Agriornis albicauda. Downloaded from on 28/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 28/10/2016.

This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000) Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004) Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife

To contribute to discussions on the evaluation of the IUCN Red List status of Globally Threatened Birds, please visit BirdLife's Globally Threatened Bird Forums.

Additional resources for this species

ARKive species - White-tailed shrike-tyrant (Agriornis albicauda) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Vulnerable
Family Tyrannidae (Tyrant-flycatchers)
Species name author Sclater, 1860
Population size 1500-7000 mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 582,000 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species