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Blackish-headed Spinetail Synallaxis tithys
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This species qualifies as Endangered because it has a very small, severely fragmented and declining range (Collar et al. 1992).

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

14.5 cm. Dark grey spinetail with rufous on wing. Dark grey head and neck, becoming black on foreface. Olivaceous-grey back and rump, bright cinnamon-rufous wing-coverts and sooty tail. Black throat with whitish malar. Rest of underparts grey, palest on mid-belly. Voice Song a slightly ascending trill, repeated at several-second intervals.

Distribution and population
Synallaxis tithys occurs in the Tumbesian region of south-west Ecuador (Manabí, Guayas, El Oro and Loja) and immediately adjacent north-west Peru (Tumbes). Extant suitable habitat is highly fragmented, making the species's distribution patchy. It is generally uncommon, but locally relatively common (Lowen 1998, Jiggins et al. 1999).

Population justification
The population is estimated to number 2,500-9,999 mature 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 3,750-14,999 individuals, rounded here to 3,500-15,000 individuals.

Trend justification
A rapid and on-going population decline is suspected, owing to rates of habitat loss.

It inhabits dense undergrowth, occasionally the midstorey, of deciduous and evergreen forest, from sea-level to 1,100 m (Lowen 1998). Studies during the dry season have found it in heavily degraded secondary forest and hedgerows within cultivation (Pople et al. 1997). It favours vine-tangles, foraging alone or in pairs, and sometimes joining mixed-species flocks (Pople et al. 1997). It appears to undertake seasonal movements. Insects constitute the majority of its diet. A juvenile was trapped in August (Jiggins et al. 1999), with egg-laying apparently in March.

Below 900 m, the rate of deforestation in west Ecuador in 1958-1988 was 57% per decade, but in the higher parts of its range, deforestation has been slower and a greater proportion of forest remains (Wege and Long 1995). It does not occur above c.1,100 m, thus it must be one of the most threatened Tumbesian forest species. All forest-types within its range have greatly diminished owing to agricultural clearance (Wege and Long 1995). Persistent grazing by goats and cattle removes understorey, prevents forest regeneration and is a serious current threat (Pople et al. 1997, Jiggins et al. 1999). Rapid habitat loss continues, and will soon remove almost all extant forest.

Conservation Actions Underway
Of the nine recent localities, five are protected: Tumbes Reserved Zone, Peru, Machalilla National Park (large but requires stronger protection), Cerro Blanco Protection Forest (recently enlarged to 50 km2) (E. Horstmann in litt. 2000), Arenillas Military Reserve (the largest intact area of dry forest and thorn-scrub in south-west Ecuador) and Algodonal Reserve, all Ecuador (Wege and Long 1995). The latter is a very small (0.35 km2) part of a larger, disturbed dry forest (c.30 km2) at Hacienda Jujal, with even larger forested areas in adjacent Peru (Jiggins et al. 1999). Conservation Actions Proposed
Survey areas of known and potential occurrence (Jiggins et al. 1999). Assess the population viability in degraded habitats. Strengthen habitat protection in Tumbes Reserved Zone and Machalilla National Park. Work with local communities around Hacienda Jujal to enlarge the conservation area and secure extant forest from external threats (Jiggins et al. 1999).

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.

Jiggins, C. D.; Andrade, P.; Cueva, E.; Dixon, S.; Isherwood, I.; Willis, J. 1999. The conservation of three forests in south west Ecuador: Reserva Natural El Tundo, Hacienda Jujal and Tambo Negro.

Lowen, J. C. 1998. Notes on scarce species in Ecuador, December 1997.

Pople, R. G.; Burfield, I. J.; Clay, R. P.; Cope, D. R.; Kennedy, C. P.; López Lanús, B.; Reyes, J.; Warren, B.; Yagual, E. 1997. Bird surveys and conservation status of three sites in western Ecuador: final report of Project Ortalis '96. CSB Publications, Cambridge, UK.

Wege, D. C.; Long, A. J. 1995. Key Areas for threatened birds in the Neotropics. BirdLife International, Cambridge, U.K.

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

Horstman, E.

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

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Synallaxis tithys. 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 - Blackish-headed spinetail (Synallaxis tithys) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Endangered
Family Furnariidae (Ovenbirds)
Species name author Taczanowski, 1877
Population size 2500-9999 mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 4,900 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species