email a friend
printable version
Perija Thistletail Asthenes perijana
BirdLife Species Champion Become a BirdLife Preventing Extinctions Programme Supporter
For information about BirdLife Species Champions and Species Guardians visit the BirdLife Preventing Extinctions Programme.

This species has a very small range, within which it is known from very few locations. Its high elevation habitats are highly restricted and recent evidence suggests that its habitat is declining and being fragmented as a result of illegal cultivation. Consequently it is classified as Endangered.

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

Taxonomic note
Use of the genus Asthenes follows SACC (2010).

Schizoeaca perijana Stotz et al. (1996), Schizoeaca perijana Sibley and Monroe (1990, 1993), Schizoeaca perijana BirdLife International (2004, 2008)

19 cm. Small furnariid with long, pointed tail. Uniform greyish-brown, with long greyish supercilium. Cinnamon-buff chin spot. Chestnut-edged wing-coverts. Long, pointed, graduated, light brown tail feathers. Similar spp. White-chinned Thistletail A. fuliginosa is dark chestnut-brown above with white eye-ring. Voice Unknown.

Distribution and population
Asthenes perijana only occurs in the Sierra de Perijá (and particularly Cerro Pintado) on the border of Colombia (Guajira) and Venezuela (Zuila) (Meyer de Schauensee and Phelps 1978, Hilty and Brown 1986).

Population justification
The population is estimated to number 250-999 individuals based on an assessment of known records, descriptions of abundance and range size. This is consistent with recorded population density estimates for congeners or close relatives with a similar body size, and the fact that only a proportion of the estimated Extent of Occurrence is likely to be occupied. This estimate is equivalent to 167-666 mature individuals, rounded here to 150-700 mature individuals.

Trend justification
A slow and continuing population decline is suspected, owing to rates of habitat loss.

It inhabits subparámo and shrubbery vegetation at elevations of 3,000-3,400 m (Hilty and Brown 1986, A. Viloria per J. Fjeldså in litt. 1998, Hilty 2003, Sharpe and Lentino 2008). There have been suggestions that it may favour bamboo (A. Viloria per J. Fjeldså in litt. 1998), but its close relative, the White-chinned Thistletail A. fuliginosa, does not inhabit bamboo stands (F. G. Stiles in litt. 1999). Birds are often seen in pairs, foraging for arthropods and occasionally berries (Fjeldså and Krabbe 1990). Immatures and breeding-condition adults have been recorded in July (Fjeldså and Krabbe 1990).

Habitat below 2,000 m in the Sierra de Perijá is threatened by narcotics cultivation, uncontrolled colonisation, cattle-ranching and mineral exploitation, which are all facilitated by the many roads approaching the sierra from the Colombian side (C. J. Sharpe in litt. 1997, 2000, A. Viloria per J. Fjeldså in litt. 1998, Sharpe and Lentino 2008). The species's high-elevation habitat was thought to be less affected by these developments, but the area of suitable habitat is now believed to be fragmented and declining as a result of illegal cultivation (Renjifo et al. 2002, C. J. Sharpe in litt. 2003). Only patches of montane forest remain on the steepest slopes of the Cerro Pintado. Forest is still being lost to burning and the cultivation of Papaver. Security problems are making access very difficult (R. Strewe in litt. 2003).

Conservation Actions Underway
Some of its range is formally protected by Sierra de Perijá National Park, Venezuela, but there is no active management (A. Viloria per J. Fjeldså in litt. 1998, Sharpe and Lentino 2008). Cerro Pintado lies to the north of the park, but the inhabitants of the Villanueva village, Colombia, attempt to protect the natural habitat (A. Viloria per J. Fjeldså in litt. 1998). Conservation Actions Proposed
Estimate the population size (C. J. Sharpe, J-P. Rodrígiez and F. Rojas-Suárez in litt. 1999, Sharpe and Lentino 2008). Determine its global distribution (Sharpe and Lentino 2008). Study its ecological requirements (C. J. Sharpe, J-P. Rodrígiez and F. Rojas-Suárez in litt. 1999). Assess habitat availability using aerial photographs (C. J. Sharpe, J-P. Rodrígiez and F. Rojas-Suárez in litt. 1999). Manage and effectively protect Sierra de Perijá National Park (Rodríguez and Rojas-Suárez 1995, Sharpe and Lentino 2008).

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

Hilty, S. L.; Brown, W. L. 1986. A guide to the birds of Colombia. Princeton University Press, Princeton.

Meyer de Schauensee, R.; Phelps, W. H. 1978. A guide to the birds of Venezuela. Princeton University Press, Princeton.

Renjifo, L. M.; Franco-Maya, A. M.; Amaya-Espinel, J. D.; Kattan, G. H.; López-Lans, B. 2002. Libro rojo de aves de Colombia. Instituto de Investigación de Recursos Biológicos Alexander von Humboldt y Ministerio del Medio Ambiente, Bogot, Colombia.

Rodríguez, J. P.; Rojas-Suárez, F. 1995. Libro Rojo de la fauna Venezolana. Provita, Caracas.

Sharpe, C.J.; Lentino, M. 2008. Piscuiz de Perijá Schizoeaca perijana. In: Rodríguez, J.P. and Rojas-Suárez, F. (eds), Libro Rojo de la fauna Venezolana. Tercera Edición, pp. 150. Provita & Shell Venezuela, S.A., Caracas, Venezuela.

Further web sources of information
Alliance for Zero Extinction (AZE) species/site profile. This species has been identified as an AZE trigger due to its IUCN Red List status and limited range.

Click here for more information about the Alliance for Zero Extinction (AZE)

Explore HBW Alive for further information on this species

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

Text account compilers
Benstead, P., Capper, D., Harding, M., Sharpe, C J & Symes, A.

Fjeldså, J., Rodríguez, J., Rojas-Suárez, F., Sharpe, C J, Stiles, F., Strewe, R. & Viloria, A.

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

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2014) Species factsheet: Asthenes perijana. Downloaded from on 31/07/2014. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2014) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 31/07/2014.

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.

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Endangered
Family Furnariidae (Ovenbirds)
Species name author (Phelps, 1977)
Population size 150-700 mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 110 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species