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Chestnut-backed Thornbird Phacellodomus dorsalis
BirdLife is updating this factsheet for the 2016 Red List
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This species has a very small and declining range, and is close to qualifying as Endangered. However, it is known from at least six locations, and is therefore listed as Vulnerable.

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

19 cm. Large, brown-and-rufous furnariid. Rufescent crown with pale streaking. Greyish-brown nape and upperparts. Rufous-chestnut back and mostly rufous wings and tail. Whitish underparts with rufous speckling on breast and rufous tinge on flanks. Immature has no rufous on crown. Similar spp. Common Thornbird P. rufifrons lacks rufous on back and breast. Voice Not reported. Hints Large cylindrical nests, typical of genus and usually placed near the tip of a tree branch, are more conspicuous than the species itself. Voice A series of short sharp descending accelerating squeaky calls

Distribution and population
Phacellodomus dorsalis occurs on the east slope of the west Andes in the upper Marañón valley, south Cajamarca and La Libertad, north-west Peru (Fjeldså and Krabbe 1990, Ridgely and Tudor 1994, Clements and Shany 2001). There is also a sighting on the east slope of Cordillera Blanca in Ancash (Ridgely and Tudor 1994, R. Webster and R. A. Rowlett in litt. 1998). It is fairly common around Hacienda Limón in Cajamarca (R. Webster and R. A. Rowlett in litt. 1998), but is generally considered uncommon (Fjeldså and Krabbe 1990, Ridgely and Tudor 1994, Clements and Shany 2001).

Population justification
The population size is preliminarily estimated to fall into the band 10,000-19,999 individuals. This equates to 6,667-13,333 mature individuals, rounded here to 6,000-15,000 mature individuals.

Trend justification
This species's population is suspected to be declining rapidly, in line with rates of habitat loss within its range.

It is found in arid to fairly humid, dense, tangled thorn-scrub, pastures and hedgerows on bushy slopes with scattered Acacia macracantha trees (F. Angulo in litt. 2012). Most records are at elevations of 2,000-3,100 m (Fjeldså and Krabbe 1990, Ridgely and Tudor 1994, Schulenberg et al. 2007), but, in the Cordillera Blanca, it was recorded at 3,400 m (Ridgely and Tudor 1994). Around Hacienda Limón, it occurs in areas with substantial disturbance, including along dry streambeds and eroded gullies adjacent to agricultural areas (R. Webster and R. A. Rowlett in litt. 1998). Nests tend to be placed in A. macracantha trees and are made from twigs of the same tree (F. Angulo in litt. 2012).

Habitat in the Marañón drainage has deteriorated progressively under a prolonged period of cultivation. The species apparently tolerates some degree of habitat alteration, but whether it can complete its life-cycle or occur at existing densities in heavily cultivated areas is not known. Fire and clearance of land for agriculture are the principal threats (F. Angulo in litt. 2012).

Conservation Actions Underway
None is known. Proposals for key sites to be protected are found in Angulo et al. (2008).Conservation Actions Proposed
Survey to assess the species's distribution and population. Research its natural history, including basic information such as vocalisations. Ensure the protection of areas around Hacienda Limón. Establish at least one protected area within the species' range (F. Angulo in litt. 2012).

Angulo, F., Palomino, W., Arnal, H., Aucca, C. y Uchofen, O. 2008. Corredor de Conservación de Aves Marañón - Alto Mayo: Análisis de Distribución de Aves de Alta Prioridad de Conservación e Identificación de Propuestas de Áreas para su Conservación. Asoci

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

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.

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

Ridgely, R. S.; Tudor, G. 1994. The birds of South America. University of Texas Press, Austin, Texas.

Schulenberg, T. S.; Stotz, D. F. ; Lane, D. F.; O'Neill, J. P.; Parker III, T. A. 2007. Birds of Peru. Prnceton University Press, Prnceton, NJ, USA.

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
Capper, D., Pople, R., Sharpe, C J, Stuart, T., Symes, A.

Rowlett, R., Webster, R., Angulo Pratolongo, F.

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

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Phacellodomus dorsalis. Downloaded from on 20/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 20/10/2016.

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 - Chestnut-backed thornbird (Phacellodomus dorsalis) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Vulnerable
Family Furnariidae (Ovenbirds)
Species name author Salvin, 1895
Population size 6000-15000 mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 1,800 km2
Country endemic? Yes
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species