Guianan Streaked Antwren Myrmotherula surinamensis


Justification of Red List Category

Based on a model of future deforestation in the Amazon basin, and the species’s susceptibility to habitat fragmentation, it is suspected that its population will decline rapidly over the next three generations, and it has therefore been uplisted to Vulnerable.

Population justification
The global population size has not been quantified, but this species is described as fairly common (Stotz et al. 1996).

Trend justification
This species is suspected to lose 32.5-34.4% of suitable habitat within its distribution over three generations (15 years) based on a model of Amazonian deforestation (Soares-Filho et al. 2006, Bird et al. 2011). Given the susceptibility of the species to fragmentation and/or edge effects, it is therefore suspected to decline by ≥30% over three generations.

Distribution and population

Myrmotherula surinamensis has a large range in the Guyana Shield region of South America, and is generally uncommon to fairly common (del Hoyo et al. 2003, Restall et al. 2006). In south Venezuela, it occurs in southern Delta Amacuro, Bolívar (where it is uncommon and local) and Amazonas, including presence in Yapacana, Duida-Marahuaca and Serranía de La Neblina National Parks, and the Alto Orinoco-Casiquiare Biosphere Reserve (del Hoyo et al. 2003, Hilty 2003, Zimmer et al. 2014). It is found across Suriname, Guyana and French Guiana, being frequent in the latter two (del Hoyo et al. 2003, Restall et al. 2006). In north Brazil, it ranges from eastern Roraima eastwards as far as Amapá (del Hoyo et al. 2003, Zimmer et al. 2014).


This is an understorey and middle storey species of Amazonian lowland várzea (seasonally flooded forest), igapó (permanently flooded forest) and shrubby secondary growth, occurring up to 550 m. It forages in  tangles and other dense foliage overhanging water, usually in pairs or individually, but occasionally in mixed-species flocks. It is usually confined to the bands of shrubby vegetation that immediately border rivers, streams and oxbow lakes. The ability of this species to persist in shrubby second-growth habitats makes it less sensitive to disturbance than many other forest species (del Hoyo et al. 2003, Zimmer et al. 2014).


The primary threat to this species is accelerating deforestation in the Amazon basin as land is cleared for cattle ranching and soy production, facilitated by expansion of the road network (Soares-Filho et al. 2006, Bird et al. 2011). It is thought that it may be particularly susceptible to forest fragmentation (A. Lees in litt. 2011). Proposed changes to the Brazilian Forest Code reduce the percentage of land a private landowner is legally required to maintain as forest (including, critically, a reduction in the width of forest buffers alongside perennial steams) and include an amnesty for landowners who deforested before July 2008 (who would subsequently be absolved of the need to reforest illegally cleared land) (Bird et al. 2011).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
A significant proportion of its range is legally protected, particularly in Venezuela, where there are extensive areas of intact habitat and some very large protected areas, e.g. the 39,000 km2 Parima-Tapirapecó National Park, which forms part of the 84,000 km2 Alto Orinoco-Casiquiare Biosphere Reserve, and the 30,000 km2 Canaima National Park; it also occurs in the 16,000 km2 Central Suriname Nature Reserve (Zimmer et al. 2014). No targeted actions are known.

Conservation Actions Proposed

Expand the protected area network to effectively protect IBAs. Effectively resource and manage existing and new protected areas, utilising emerging opportunities to finance protected area management with the joint aims of reducing carbon emissions and maximizing biodiversity conservation. Conservation on private lands, through expanding market pressures for sound land management and preventing forest clearance on lands unsuitable for agriculture, is also essential (Soares-Filho et al. 2006). Campaign against proposed changes to the Brazilian Forest Code that would lead to a decrease in the width of the areas of riverine forest protected as Permanent Preservation Areas (APPs), which function as vital corridors in fragmented landscapes.


9-10 cm. Small, dimorphic, relatively long-billed antwren. Male streaked black and white. Black wings with two white wing-bars. Black tail with narrow white streaks. Underparts whiter, with more sparse black streaks. Female is rufous-cinnamon on the crown and face, scaling to orange-buff on throat. Belly and flanks paler buff; wings similar to male. Similar spp. Male Cherrie's Antwren M. cherriei is more heavily streaked black, and hence looks blacker. Female M. cherrei has a much paler orange colouration than that of M. surinamensis. Voice A rattle of unmusical notes.


Text account compilers
Butchart, S., Ekstrom, J., Khwaja, N., Pilgrim, J., Symes, A., Sharpe, C J

Lees, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2022) Species factsheet: Myrmotherula surinamensis. Downloaded from on 26/09/2022. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2022) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 26/09/2022.