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Rufous-browed Hemispingus Hemispingus rufosuperciliaris
BirdLife is updating this factsheet for the 2016 Red List
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This species is listed as Vulnerable because it is known from very few locations in a small range, where habitat continues to decline.

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

15 cm. Strikingly patterned, long-legged, dark and rufous tanager. Largely slaty upperparts and black ear-coverts, crown and nape. Long, tawny supercilium and slightly paler tawny underparts, except dark undertail-coverts. Similar spp. Unmistakable. Voice High to moderate-pitched song of short, squeaky notes, interspersed with longer squeals. Also a scratchy, nasal chenk. Hints Slow and deliberate actions, small groups occasionally accompany mixed-species flocks, but remain well hidden.

Distribution and population
Hemispingus rufosuperciliaris is restricted to the east Andes of north-central Peru. It is uncommon and locally distributed in the Cordillera de Colán, Amazonas, and the Cordillera Central, south to east La Libertad and the Carpish Mountains, Huánuco (Ridgely and Tudor 1989, Fjeldså and Krabbe 1990,  Clements and Shany 2001).

Population justification
The population size is preliminarily estimated to fall into the band 2,500-9,999 individuals. This equates to 1,667-6,666 mature individuals, rounded here to 1,500-7,000 mature individuals. The species is rare and local throughout its range.

Trend justification
A slow and on-going population decline is suspected, based on rates of habitat loss within its range.

It inhabits dense undergrowth in humid elfin forest near and just below the timberline, and shows a marked preference for extensive thickets of Chusquea bamboo (Ridgely and Tudor 1989). All records are at elevations of 2,500-3,500 m, but mostly above 2,800 m (Parker et al. 1996,  Schulenberg et al. 2007). Birds tend to forage in pairs, perch-gleaning berries and insects in the undergrowth and on the ground (Ridgely and Tudor 1989, Fjeldså and Krabbe 1990). It occasionally associates with lower-storey, mixed-species flocks (Fjeldså and Krabbe 1990).

Timberline habitats in the Andes have been diminishing since the arrival of humans thousands of years ago, primarily through the use of fire (Kessler and Herzog 1998). During the colonial period, sustainable land-use systems established by Pre-Columbian cultures were largely replaced with unsustainable agricultural techniques, including widespread burning (Kessler and Herzog 1998). Regular burning of páramo grassland, adjacent to elfin forest, to promote the growth of fresh shoots for livestock, has lowered the treeline by several hundred metres, and continues to destroy large areas of this species's habitat (Kessler and Herzog 1998). The human population density in large areas of the species's range is low (T. S. Schulenberg in litt. 1999), indicating that some of its populations may be relatively secure at present, however there is a marked increase in number of cattle in northern Peru (J. Fjeldså in litt. 2007). In more populated areas, small, fragmented remnants of elfin forest are additionally threatened by clearance for agriculture and grazing, with an alarmingly high rate of conversion to cash-crops in the (until relatively recently pristine) Cordillera de Colán (Barnes et al. 1995, Kessler and Herzog 1998).

Conservation Actions Underway
It presumably occurs in Río Abiseo National Park.Conservation Actions Proposed
Survey to determine more accurately its distribution. Confirm existence in Río Abiseo National Park. Improve land-use management by segregating agricultural, grazing and forest areas (Fjeldså and Kessler 1996). Regulate the use of fire (Fjeldså and Kessler 1996). Reintroduce old, high-yielding agricultural techniques (Fjeldså and Kessler 1996). Encourage local people to take a leading role in land-use management and restoration schemes (Fjeldså and Kessler 1996).

Barnes, R.; Butchart, S.; Clay, R.; Davies, C.; Seddon, N. 1995. The conservation status of the Cordillera de Colán, northern Peru. Cotinga: 6-7.

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

Fjeldså, J.; Kessler, M. 1996. Conserving the biological diversity of Polylepis woodlands of the highland of Peru and Bolivia. NORDECO, Copenhagen.

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

Kessler, M.; Herzog, S. K. 1998. Conservation status in Bolivia of timberline habitats, elfin forest and their birds. Cotinga 10: 50-54.

Parker, T. A.; Stotz, D. F.; Fitzpatrick, J. W. 1996. Ecological and distributional databases. In: Stotz, D.F.; Fitzpatrick, J.W.; Parker, T.A.; Moskovits, D.K. (ed.), Neotropical bird ecology and conservation, pp. 113-436. University of Chicago Press, Chicago.

Ridgely, R. S.; Tudor, G. 1989. 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, T. A. III. 2007. Birds of Peru.

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
Isherwood, I., Pople, R., Sharpe, C J, Stuart, T., Symes, A.

Fjeldså, J., Schulenberg, T.

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

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Hemispingus rufosuperciliaris. 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.

Additional resources for this species

ARKive species - Rufous-browed hemispingus (Hemispingus rufosuperciliaris) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Vulnerable
Family Thraupidae (Tanagers)
Species name author Blake & Hocking, 1974
Population size 1500-7000 mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 6,700 km2
Country endemic? Yes
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species