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Red-shouldered Spinetail Gyalophylax hellmayri
BirdLife is updating this factsheet for the 2016 Red List
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This species occurs within small range, and is suspected to be declining owing to the loss and degradation of dry caatinga habitats. However, the range is not yet severely fragmented or restricted to few locations. For these reasons, the species is classified as Near Threatened.

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

Synallaxis hellmayri Sibley and Monroe (1990, 1993)

18 cm. A large dark spinetail. Dark grey brown, paler and tinged ochraceous on belly. Blackish throat patch bordered by greyish buff malar streak; face with darker shine. Dark brownish wings with contrasting rufous wing coverts. Large blackish, graduated tail. Slender but big blackish bill and strong legs. Iris yellow-orange. Similar spp. Larger and heavier billed than any other sympatric spinetail; none of which share the same plumage pattern. Voice A loud churring, which becomes stuttering and fades in volume; also a fast disyllabic, continually repeated and nasal kí-tre. Hints Skulks near the ground in dense vegetation in scrub and woodland, best seen shortly after dawn; often located by voice.

Distribution and population
Gyalophylax hellmayri inhabits several types of dry caatinga in extreme north Minas Gerais, north Bahia, west Pernambuco, Piauí, with an old specimen record from west Ceará, north-east Brazil (Whitney and Pacheco 1994, G. M. Kirwan in litt. 1999). Recent records in Bahia and Pernambuco have shown it to be locally common, even in areas disturbed by goats and cattle grazing (A. Whittaker and K. Zimmer in litt. 1999).

Population justification
The population size of this species has not been quantified, but it is described as locally common and fairly widespread.

Trend justification
Data on population trends are lacking, but declines are likely to be occurring, owing to habitat loss.

This species was thought to be largely restricted to vegetation with the abundant, large and terrestrial bromeliad Bromelia laciniosa (Whitney and Pacheco 1994), but this is apparently not true (A. Whittaker and K. Zimmer in litt. 1999). It occurs in a variety of dry caatinga habitats, including grazed areas.

Despite being more widespread and less habitat-restricted than previously thought, it is still threatened by conversion for agriculture, intensive grazing and burning, and exploitation of woody caatinga for charcoal.

Conservation Actions Underway
Conservation Actions Proposed
Conduct further studies to determine how tolerant this species is of secondary or disturbed habitats, and determine precise ecological requirements. Encourage the protection of native caatinga habitats.

del Hoyo, J.; Elliott, A.; Christie, D. 2003. Handbook of the Birds of the World, vol. 8: Broadbills to Tapaculos. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.

Whitney, B. M.; Pacheco, J. F. 1994. Behavior and vocalizations of Gyalophylax and Megaxenops (Furnariidae), two little-known genera endemic to northeastern Brazil. Condor 96: 559-565.

Further web sources of information
Explore HBW Alive for further information on this species

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

Text account compilers
Butchart, S., Gilroy, J., Sharpe, C J

Kirwan, G., Whittaker, A., Zimmer, K.

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

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Gyalophylax hellmayri. Downloaded from on 21/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 21/10/2016.

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 Near Threatened
Family Furnariidae (Ovenbirds)
Species name author Reiser, 1905
Population size Unknown mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 12,500 km2
Country endemic? Yes
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species