Great Spinetail Synallaxis hypochondriaca


Justification of Red List Category
This species is restricted to a small range, in which its arid scrub habitat is being lost and degraded. Nevertheless, the species is not severely fragmented not confined to a limited number of locations. It is therefore evaluated as Near Threatened.

Population justification
The species is described as 'uncommon to rare', but may be locally common in less disturbed areas (Remsen 2003; H. Lloyd in litt. 2007). The population size is preliminarily suspected 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.
The subpopulation structure has not been investigated, but based on observational records (per eBird 2020) it is assumed that the species forms at least two moderately small subpopulations.

Trend justification
The population trend has not been assessed directly, but the population is suspected to be declining, due to the loss and degradation of montane scrub habitat within the range. The rate of decline is tentatively placed in the band 1-9% over ten years.

Distribution and population

Synallaxis hypochondriaca occurs on the slopes above the dry upper río Marañón valley in south-east Cajamarca, east La Libertad and north Ancash, north Peru (Ridgely and Tudor 1994).


The species inhabits dense arid or desert montane scrub and low dry forest, often with Acacia trees, thorny bushes or cacti, or Bombax and Alnus trees at lower elevations (Braun and Parker 1985; Fjeldså and Krabbe 1990; Remsen 2003; Lloyd 2020). Stream gullies with running water seem to be preferred at one site (N. Simpson in litt. 2000). The species is mainly found between 2,000 and 3,000 m.


The species is strictly dependent on montane arid srub and as such it is sensitive to habitat loss and degradation (Remsen 2003; Lloyd 2020). It is highly likely that this habitat is under pressure (Fjeldså and Krabbe 1990). The Marañón drainage has been under cultivation for a long time and habitat in the valley has progressively deteriorated. The spread of oil-palms, cattle-ranching and logging are all serious threats to remaining habitat, with oil extraction a potential future problem (Dinerstein et al. 1995).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
None is known.

Conservation Actions Proposed
Survey to determine the precise distribution. Quantify the population size. Monitor the population trend. Study its habitat requirements. Assess the impact of threats. Protect suitable habitat against clearance and degradation.


18.5 cm. Large, long-tailed spinetail. Brown upperparts, darkest on crown and palest on rump. Long white supercilium, with dusky lores and ear-coverts. Rufous lesser wing-coverts. Narrow, bold streaking on breast and flanks on otherwise white underparts. Similar spp. Baron's Spinetail Cranioleuca baroni, which is similarly built, has rufous crown, wings and tail. Considerably larger than similarly patterned Necklaced Synallaxis stictothorax and Chinchipe Spinetails S. chinchipensis. Voice A loud chatter. Hints The species's large, stick nests, similar to those of many thornbirds, are usually conspicuous within its desert scrub habitat.


Text account compilers
Hermes, C.

Capper, D., Hornbuckle, J., Isherwood, I., Lloyd, H., Pople, R., Sharpe, C.J., Simpson, N., Stuart, T. & Symes, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2022) Species factsheet: Synallaxis hypochondriaca. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 09/12/2022. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2022) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 09/12/2022.