email a friend
printable version
Santa Marta Wren Troglodytes monticola
BirdLife is updating this factsheet for the 2016 Red List
Please email us with any relevant information
BirdLife Species Champion Become a BirdLife Preventing Extinctions Programme Supporter
For information about BirdLife Species Champions and Species Guardians visit the BirdLife Preventing Extinctions Programme.

This species is considered Critically Endangered because it is suspected that it will undergo an extremely rapid decline over the next three generations. It is thought to have experienced a very rapid decline over the last three generations, as its habitats continue to be extensively cleared and heavily degraded in its very small range, in which it is known from only one location.

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

Distribution and population
Troglodytes monticola is endemic to the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, Colombia, where it is known from collections made in 1922, one record in the upper río Frío Valley at 3,600 m, where a pair was observed and tape-recorded in a small montane forest patch (c. 2 ha) amidst heavily burned and overgrazed páramo (R. Strewe in litt. 2003), and 17 individuals located in a targeted search in 2011 (Luna and Quevedo 2012). Searches on the southern slopes and at the only other intact forest patch in the area failed to locate the species (R. Strewe in litt. 2003, Fundación ProAves de Colombia 2011), however in December 2011 the species was photographed for the first time and a total of 17 individuals were observed in three days along a 3 km stretch (Luna and Quevedo 2012). Several pairs of the species were sighted recently during fire surveys in the Parque Nacional Natural Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta (Rojas and Vasquez 2015). The lack of recent reports may partly reflect the fact that the species is not found in the only area of the Santa Marta massif regularly visited (Ridgely and Tudor 1989).

Population justification
The species's population size has not been formally estimated and, in the absence of sufficient data, it is preliminarily estimated to number 50-249 mature individuals; however detailed research is urgently required. This estimate equates to 75-379 individuals in total, rounded here to 70-400 individuals.

Trend justification
The species's population is suspected to have undergone a very rapid decline of more than 70% over the last 10 years (Fundación ProAves de Colombia 2011) owing to extensive and severe habitat loss and degradation caused by deforestation, extensive burning and overgrazing. Given the severity of threats, this decline is expected to accelerate in the future (Fundación ProAves de Colombia 2011).

The species is reportedly found in low, thick shrubbery at the timberline and in sheltered spots high in the páramo zone, from 3,200 to 4,600 m (Ridgely and Tudor 1989). It may actually be restricted to the timberline ecotone, rather than being a páramo specialist (Fundación ProAves de Colombia 2011).

Less than 15% of the original forest cover remains within the massif, and despite substantive protection status on paper, in reality high rates of habitat loss continue owing to human colonisation and cultivation. In some areas deforestation has reached the species's elevation range (O. Cortes in litt. 2011) and streamside vegetation is unsustainably cut for firewood in some places (N. Krabbe in litt. 2010). The wren's habitat within Río Frío valley is extremely isolated, owing to burning and overgrazing, and more information is required concerning the habitat condition of other páramo and high montane forests elsewhere on the massif (Strewe and Navarro 2004).

Conservation and Research Actions Underway
The species's range lies within indigenous reserves and some protection may be provided by the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta National Park. Further efforts to search for the species on the most intact western slopes were being pursued in early 2011 (Fundación ProAves de Colombia 2011).

Conservation and Research Actions Proposed
There is an urgent need to conduct surveys to assess the range and abundance of this species in order to generate a population estimate. Improve the level of habitat protection throughout its range, particularly within Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta National Park. Monitor changes in population size in relation to continuing habitat degradation. Immediately seek to supply local people with firewood, in order to avoid further habitat destruction (N. Krabbe in litt. 2012).

Fundación ProAves de Colombia. 2011. Notes on the status of various threatened birds species occurring in Colombia. Conservacion Colombiana 15: 22-28.

IUCN. 2015. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015-4. Available at: (Accessed: 19 November 2015).

Luna, J. C.; Quevedo, A. 2012. Primera fotografía en su habitat y nuevo avistamiento del Cucarachero de Santa Marta Troglodytes monticola, especie en peligro crítico. Conservacion Colombiana 17: 31-32.

Ridgely, R. S.; Tudor, G. 1989. The birds of South America. University of Texas Press, Austin, Texas.

Rojas, C.J. and Vasquez, C. 2015. Rediscovery of the Blue-bearded Helmetcrest Oxypogon cyanolaemus, a hummingbird lost for almost 70 years. Conservación Colombiana 22: 4-7.

Strewe, R.; Navarro, C. 2004. The threatened birds of the río Frío Valley, Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, Colombia. Cotinga 22: 47-55.

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
Gilroy, J., Harding, M., Sharpe, C J, Taylor, J., Symes, A. & Wright, L

Cortés, O., Krabbe, N. & Strewe, R.

IUCN Red List evaluators
Symes, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Troglodytes monticola. 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 Critically Endangered
Family Troglodytidae (Wrens)
Species name author Bangs, 1899
Population size 50-249 mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 1,300 km2
Country endemic? Yes
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species