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Rusty-throated Wren-babbler Spelaeornis badeigularis
BirdLife is updating this factsheet for the 2016 Red List
Please email us with any relevant information

This species is currently known from just a single location, rendering it susceptible to human impacts. It is therefore classified as Vulnerable. However, given its tolerance of secondary habitats it is unlikely that its population is declining, and further survey effort may reveal that it is more widespread. If this is confirmed it will warrant downlisting to Near Threatened.

Taxonomic source(s)
Sibley, C. G.; Monroe, B. L. 1990. Distribution and taxonomy of birds of the world. Yale University Press, New Haven, USA.

9 cm. Tiny, tailed wren-babbler with white chin and dark, streaked rusty-chestnut throat. Rest of underparts dark, scaled whitish, especially on flanks. Brown upperparts. Small black bill. Similar spp. Rufous-throated Wren-babbler S. caudatus has rufous-orange throat without dark streaks, less white on chin and greyer ear-coverts. Browner scaling on flanks and belly.

Distribution and population
Spelaeornis badeigularis was known from one specimen, collected at Dreyi in the Mishmi Hills of eastern Arunachal Pradesh, India, in 1947. It was rediscovered in 2004 along Mayodia Pass in the Mishmi Hills, where it was recorded as common (King and Donahue 2006). This remains the only known location for the species, but its use of roadside secondary growth suggests that it may occur more widely in eastern Arunchal Pradesh and other north-east Indian hills (J. Pilgrim in litt. 2006). The species appears to be tolerant of secondary habitats, and given the extent of forest within eastern Arunchal Pradesh it is unlikely to be declining rapidly (J. Pilgrim in litt. 2006).

Population justification
This species is known from only one locality, where it is reported to be common. It may be more widespread, but a precautionary population estimate of 2,500-9,999 individuals is currently deemed appropriate. This equates to 1,667-6,666 mature individuals, rounded here to 1,500-7,000 mature individuals.

Trend justification
Although the species is apparently tolerant of secondary habitats, it is likely to be negatively affected by human activities within its range, including total habitat clearance. It is therefore suspected to be declining, although probably not rapidly.

The type-specimen, an adult female, was collected in moist subtropical forest at 1,600 m in winter (January). It has since been recorded in dense undergrowth 1-3 m high in secondary forest, often with a broken canopy, within an elevation range between 1,800 and 2,550 m. This vegetation is typical of road-cuts and ravines. It is very active, typically remaining within 1 m of the ground.

Timber extraction in Dibang and Lohit districts in Arunachal Pradesh, combined with forest loss and degradation as a result of shifting agriculture, are the most significant potential threats. In 1992, an estimated 61% of the state was still forested, but rates of habitat destruction are rapidly increasing in parallel with increases in the human population of Arunachal Pradesh, which doubled between 1970 and 1990. However, given that the species inhabits secondary growth in upland areas, deforestation is unlikely to have a dramatic impact on the population in the near future.

Conservation Actions Underway
None are known. However, the Dibang, Mehao and Walong Wildlife Sanctuaries are close to the type-locality and may support undiscovered populations. Conservation Actions Proposed
Conduct surveys for the species across Lohit and Dibang districts, Arunachal Pradesh, including Dibang Wildlife Sanctuary, and also adjacent China and north-west Myanmar, to establish its distribution, status, habitat requirements and threats. Conduct studies to determine the extent of tolerance of secondary habitat, focussing in particular on whether populations persist in areas where primary habitat has been completely removed. Make recommendations for its conservation, based on survey findings, including the establishment of protected areas supporting populations of this and other threatened species, linked if possible to existing reserves. Promote conservation-awareness initiatives in hill and mountain communities, aimed at reducing shifting agriculture and promoting sustainable exploitation of natural resources.

King, B.; Donahue, J. P. 2006. The rediscovery and song of the Rusty-throated Wren babbler Spelaeornis badeigularis. Forktail 22: 113-115.

Further web sources of information
Detailed species accounts from the Threatened birds of Asia: the BirdLife International Red Data Book (BirdLife International 2001).

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
Benstead, P., Bird, J., Butchart, S., Davidson, P., Gilroy, J., Peet, N., Taylor, J., Tobias, J., Allinson, T

Eames, J.C., Pilgrim, J., King, B.

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

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Spelaeornis badeigularis. Downloaded from on 22/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 22/10/2016.

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 - Rusty-throated wren-babbler (Spelaeornis badeigularis) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Vulnerable
Family Timaliidae (Babblers and parrotbills)
Species name author Ripley, 1948
Population size 1500-7000 mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 5,200 km2
Country endemic? Yes
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species