Great Spinetail Synallaxis hypochondriaca


Justification of Red List Category
This species qualifies as Vulnerable because of its small range and limited number of known locations in a region where its habitat is believed to be declining.

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.

Distribution and population

Siptornopsis hypochondriaca occurs on the slopes above the dry upper río Marañón valley in south Amazonas, south-east Cajamarca, east La Libertad and north Ancash (one specimen taken in 1932), north Peru (Ridgely and Tudor 1994). It is currently known from four locations: around Balsas (Amazonas/Cajamarca) (Clements and Shany 2001), above Chagual (La Libertad) (J. Hornbuckle in litt. 1998) and at two sites near San Marcos (Cajamarca) (N. Simpson in litt. 2000, Begazo et al. 2001). There is suitable habitat along the Cajabamba-San Marcos road from Ichocan to the Rio Crisnejas, but none on the Cajabamba side of the river (N. Simpson in litt. 2000, H. Lloyd in litt. 2007). It may be locally common in less disturbed areas (H. Lloyd in litt. 2007).


It inhabits arid/desert scrub and low dry forest, often with Acacia trees, at elevations of 2,000-3,000 m (Braun and Parker 1985, J. Hornbuckle in litt. 1998, N. Simpson in litt. 2000). Stream gullies with running water seem to be preferred at one site, where there were also numerous stacks of cut firewood (N. Simpson in litt. 2000). The positive or negative effects of cutting for firewood on the species are unknown (N. Simpson in litt. 2000).


It is highly likely that this species's 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 this species's precise distribution. 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
Capper, D., Isherwood, I., Pople, R., Sharpe, C J, Stuart, T., Symes, A.

Lloyd, H., Simpson, N., Hornbuckle, J.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2021) Species factsheet: Synallaxis hypochondriaca. Downloaded from on 05/12/2021. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2021) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 05/12/2021.