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Apurimac Spinetail Synallaxis courseni
BirdLife is updating this factsheet for the 2016 Red List
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This species is classified as Vulnerable because it is known from just a few locations and has a very small total population. If disturbance and small-scale tree felling at the Ampay National Sanctuary is found to be causing a population decline, the species may warrant uplisting to Endangered in the future.

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

Taxonomic note
Synallaxis azarae (Sibley and Monroe 1990, 1993) was provisionally split into S. azarae, S. courseni, S. elegantior and S. superciliosa by Stotz et al. (1996). S. courseni has been recognised as a distinct species following SACC (2005), but elegantior and superciliosa are lumped with S. azarae following SACC (2005).

18.5 cm. Slender, grey-and-rufous spinetail. Dark grey forehead. Dark rufous crown. Grey face and underparts, paler on centre of belly. Darker throat, stippled whitish. Grey-brown upperparts, greyer on rump. Largely rufous wings. Long, dusky brown tail. Voice Nasal keet-weet.

Distribution and population
Synallaxis courseni is known from several locations in south-central Peru. It was previously thought to be restricted to the Ampay National Sanctuary, where it was thought to have a population of 600-800 mature individuals (Collar et al. 1992). However, there have been several sightings outside the sanctuary, including at Huayrapata, Pacaypata, Cerro Turronmocco (above Quisuar) and above Yanama town in the Vilcabamba Mts on the way to Toruyocpampa (C. Aucca in litt. 2007, H. Lloyd and B. Walker in litt. 2007). The species has been described as common on Ampay Massif and on the road leading to Huanipaca (J. Fjeldså in litt. 2007, H. Lloyd and B. Walker in litt. 2007, H. Lloyd in litt. 2010), and its current population is thought to be roughly 1,000 individuals within the sanctuary (J. Valenzuela in litt. 2010). The population size in other areas is unknown.

Population justification
The population within the Ampay National Sanctuary has been estimated to number almost 1,000 individuals. Although there are records outside of the sanctuary, it is not thought to be present in significant numbers in these areas (J. Valenzuela in litt. 2010). Therefore, a population band of 1,000-2,499 individuals is currently assumed, though a full population census may revise the figure upwards. This estimate equates to 667-1,666 mature individuals, rounded here to 600-1,700 mature individuals.

Trend justification
The Ampay National Sanctuary is currently thought to be the stronghold of the species, where some disturbance and cutting of Podocarpus trees occurs. However, there is no evidence of a population decline, as the population in the sanctuary was previously estimated at 600-800 individuals and is now thought to hold nearly 1,000 individuals (Collar et al. 1992, J. Valenzuela in litt. 2010).

It inhabits dense undergrowth, vines and bamboo in Podocarpus woodland, as well as adjacent shrubbery, mainly at elevations of 2,450-3,500 m. It is usually found in pairs or family groups, foraging for insects in dense vegetation near the ground. Adults in breeding condition have been recorded in December, and immatures have been seen in March (Fjeldså and Krabbe 1990). Records from highly fragmented cloud forest landscape dominated by agriculture (H. Lloyd in litt. 2007, H. Lloyd and B. Walker in litt. 2007) indicate that the species may be tolerant, to a degree, of anthropogenic habitat fragmentation and degradation.

Podocarpus trees continue to be cut on the Nevada Ampay (T. Valqui in litt. 1999). Large numbers of people visit the sanctuary at the weekend, some with slingshots, and disturbance is considerable (T. Valqui in litt. 1999). Grazing is an additional threat, with livestock farming commonplace even inside the protected area (J. Valenzuela in litt. 2012).

Conservation Actions Underway
The Podocarpus forest above Abancay, Apurímac, is protected as the Ampay National Sanctuary. Reforestation is underway, but threats to the forest are yet to be alleviated (T. Valqui in litt. 1999, W.-P. Vellinga in litt. 1999). Conservation Actions Proposed
Monitor the population. Assess the impact of current activities on the status of this species. Develop a conservation education programme at Ampay National Sanctuary and erect signposts to discourage damaging activities (T. Valqui in litt. 1999). Conduct further surveys for the species outside the sanctuary. Complete a full population census.

Clements, J. F.; Shany, N. 2001. A field guide to the birds of Peru. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.

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

Sibley, C. G.; Monroe, B. L. 1990. Distribution and taxonomy of birds of the world. Yale University Press, New Haven, USA.

Sibley, C. G.; Monroe, B. L. 1993. A supplement to 'Distribution and taxonomy of birds of the world'. Yale University Press, New Haven, USA.

Stotz, D. F.; Fitzpatrick, J. W.; Parker, T. A.; Moskovits, D. K. 1996. Neotropical birds: ecology and conservation. University of Chicago Press, Chicago.

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
Calvert, R., Isherwood, I., Pople, R., Sharpe, C J, Stuart, T., Symes, A., Khwaja, N.

Lloyd, H., Valenzuela, J., Valqui, T., Vellinga, W.

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

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Synallaxis courseni. Downloaded from on 22/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 22/10/2016.

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.

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Vulnerable
Family Furnariidae (Ovenbirds)
Species name author Blake, 1971
Population size 600-1700 mature individuals
Population trend Stable
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 60 km2
Country endemic? Yes
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species