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Rusty-headed Spinetail Synallaxis fuscorufa

This species has a small range and population, which is fragmented and declining owing to habitat destruction caused by illegal agriculture, logging and burning. Intensification of these pressures, and hence increased rates of population decline have led to its uplisting to Vulnerable. It may even warrant uplisting to Endangered once more detailed information on rates of forest loss becomes available.

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

17 cm. Large orange-rufous spinetail. Head, neck and upper breast orange-rufous, as are wings and long tail. Back and flanks greyish-olive. Black throat patch usually concealed. Bill and legs dark. Similar spp. None within restricted range. Voice Call an oft-repeated nasal dit-dit-du.

Distribution and population
Synallaxis fuscorufa is endemic to the Santa Marta mountains of north Colombia, with records from Cesar, Guajira and Magdalena departments. It has a small range, and its population size is currently unknown (Renjifo et al. 2002). It is described as common in humid shrubby forest borders, overgrown clearings and forest undergrowth.

Population justification
The species is fairly common within its tiny range and its population is estimated to number 2,500-9,999 mature individuals. This equates to 3,750-14,999 individuals in total, rounded here to 3,500-15,000 individuals. The population estimate requires confirmation.

Trend justification
A rapid population decline is suspected based on rates of habitat loss estimated from time series satellite images (Renjifo et al. 2002).

Synallaxis fuscorufa is found in the undergrowth of montane forests, as well as along forest edges, in altered habitat and in shrubs in open habitats (Hilty and Brown 1986, Renjifo et al. 2002). It is principally recorded at 2,000-3,000 m, but occasionally to 900 m (Hilty and Brown 1986). Its behaviour is similar to that of other Synallaxis species. It feeds as it moves energetically within shrubs and small branches principally 0.5-7 m above the ground. It is observed in pairs or family groups, which accompany mixed-species flocks. Breeding seems to occur between January and June (Renjifo et al. 2002).

Habitats are seriously threatened by illegal agricultural expansion, logging and burning (Dinerstein et al. 1995, Renjifo et al. 2002). Only 15% of the sierra's original vegetation is currently unaltered (Stattersfield et al. 1998), and the species has lost 59% of its habitat (Renjifo et al. 2002). The best known area, the Cuchilla de San Lorenzo, is not within the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta National Park (Renjifo et al. 2002).

Conservation Actions Underway
It is found within the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta National Park (Renjifo et al. 2002). Research is currently being carried out on the conservation of habitats for birds resident to the sierra (Renjifo et al. 2002). Conservation Actions Proposed
Increase the area of suitable habitat that has protected status, in part by increasing the limits of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta National Park to include the whole altitudinal gradient within the three departments (Renjifo et al. 2002). Estimate the population size, particularly in Guajira and Cesar (Renjifo et al. 2002).

Dinerstein, E.; Olson, D. M.; Graham, D. J.; Webster, A. L.; Primm, S. A.; Bookbinder, M. P.; Ledec, G. 1995. A conservation assesssment of the terrestrial ecoregions of Latin America and the Caribbean. World Bank, Washington, D.C.

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

Stattersfield, A. J.; Crosby, M. J.; Long, A. J.; Wege, D. C. 1998. Endemic bird areas of the world: priorities for bird conservation. BirdLife International, Cambridge, U.K.

Further web sources of information
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
Isherwood, I., O'Brien, A., Sharpe, C J, Symes, A.

Salaman, P.

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

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2014) Species factsheet: Synallaxis fuscorufa. Downloaded from on 02/08/2014. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2014) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 02/08/2014.

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.

Additional resources for this species

ARKive species - Rusty-headed spinetail (Synallaxis fuscorufa) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Vulnerable
Family Furnariidae (Ovenbirds)
Species name author Sclater, 1882
Population size 2500-9999 mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 5,100 km2
Country endemic? Yes
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species