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White-browed Tit-spinetail Leptasthenura xenothorax
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This species has a very small and severely fragmented range and population, which continue to decline with habitat loss and a lack of habitat regeneration (Collar et al. 1992). It therefore is listed as Endangered.

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

16 cm. Small, dark furnariid. Bright rufous front and crown. Dark face striped white and buff. Long white eyebrow. Whitish throat coarsely chequered black, contrasting with smoky-grey underparts. Grey-brown back striped white. Unstreaked nape. Dark wings with two whitish panels. Strongly pointed and graduated black tail with white tips to outer rectrices. Voice Very vocal. Song is high-pitched trill lasting 2-5 seconds, sometimes introduced by several tjit calls. Repeated tjit contact call.

Distribution and population
Leptasthenura xenothorax has a very restricted and severely fragmented range in the Runtacocha highland (Apurímac), the Nevado Sacsarayoc massif and the Cordillera Vilcanota (Cuzco), south-central Peru. Significant populations of c.35-70 individuals were estimated at three sites in Cuzco in 1987-1989, but declines have been observed at some of these, and the population density is very low in the Runtacocha highland (Fjeldså and Kessler 1996). The patchiness and scarcity of its habitat, which may now occupy less than 3% of the estimated potential cover in large parts of Cuzco (Fjeldså and Kessler 1996), suggests that the total population must now be very small (Fjeldså and Krabbe 1990), with one recent estimate of 500-1,500 individuals (Engblom et al. 2002).

Population justification
Engblom et al. (2002) estimate the known population to be c.500 birds, with a potential total population of c.1,500. The number of mature individuals is therefore likely to fall between 250 and 999.

Trend justification
This species is suspected to lose 53.2% of suitable habitat within its distribution over three generations (11 years) based on a model of Amazonian deforestation (Soares-Filho et al. 2006, Bird et al. 2011). It is therefore suspected to decline by Given the susceptibility of the species to fragmentation and/or edge effects, it is therefore suspected to decline by ≥50% over three generations.

It occurs in small, often widely scattered, patches of humid Polylepis woodland at elevations of 3,700-4,550 m. An adult was observed attending a nest-hole in a Polylepis tree in November 1997 (C. Bushell in litt. 1999), and recently fledged young were observed in December 2003 (H. Lloyd in litt. 2004) but its breeding ecology remains very poorly known. It forages in pairs or small family groups of three or four, picking insects from the bark, moss and lichens on twigs, branches and trunks, often in mixed-species flocks.

Uncontrolled fires and heavy grazing prevent Polylepis regeneration (Fjeldså and Kessler 1996). Cutting for timber, firewood and charcoal is locally destructive, but could be sustained if regeneration were not prevented (Fjeldså and Kessler 1996). Other factors are the change from camelid to sheep- and cattle-farming, and the inadequacy of afforestation projects (in particular the use of exotic tree species) (Fjeldså and Kessler 1996). The extent of Polylepis woodlands in Cuzco halved during the 1980s.

Conservation Actions Underway
There have been some attempts to draw local attention to the plight of Polylepis woodlands in Cuzco, Peru. In the Runtacocha highland, local families have been advised by a Cuzco-based conservation group, and appear positive towards better environmental control (Fjeldså and Kessler 1996). Surveys of Polylepis and high-altitude habitats have been conducted and suggestions for the conservation of these habitats have been published (Fjeldså and Kessler 1996). A recent joint programme aims to protect Polylepis forests and develop alternatives for local consumption of fuel and timber. It provides Polylepis saplings for forest regeneration and Eucalyptus saplings for use as an alternative timber species, and villagers are paid to plant the saplings in a community aid programme (Rome 2003). Conservation Actions Proposed
Survey remaining Polylepis habitat in the Cordillera Vilcanota (Fjeldså and Kessler 1996, G. Servat in litt. 1999). Protect Yanacocha forest and other Polylepis habitat in the Cordillera Vilcanota (G. Servat in litt. 1999). Expand the Polylepis planting programme, and plant buffer zones below Polylepis woodland with firewood species to provide an alternative fuel source (Fjeldså and Kessler 1996).

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.

Engblom, G.; Aucca Chutas, C.; Ferro Meza, G.; Palomino, W.; Samochuallpa, E. 2002. The conservation of Polylepis-adapted birds at Abra Málaga, Cuzco, Peru. Cotinga 17: 56-59.

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

Fjeldså, J.; Krabbe, N. 1990. Birds of the high Andes. Apollo Books, Copenhagen.

Rome, A. 2003. Saving Polylepis forests in Peru.

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.

Search for photos and videos, and hear sounds of this species from the Internet Bird Collection

Text account compilers
Capper, D., Isherwood, I., Pople, R., Sharpe, C J, Stuart, T., Symes, A.

Bushell, C., Lloyd, H., Servat, G.

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

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Leptasthenura xenothorax. Downloaded from on 27/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 27/10/2016.

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-browed tit-spinetail (Leptasthenura xenothorax) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Endangered
Family Furnariidae (Ovenbirds)
Species name author Chapman, 1921
Population size 250-999 mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 2,500 km2
Country endemic? Yes
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species