Orinoco Softtail Thripophaga cherriei


Justification of Red List Category
This species is only known from the type-locality. Shifting agriculture is practised in this general area, but is probably not currently impacting on the known population. This combination of a very small population and range and potential future rapid habitat loss qualifies it as Vulnerable.

Population justification
The population size is preliminarily estimated to fall into the band 250-999 mature individuals. This equates to 375-1,499 individuals in total, rounded here to 350-1,500 individuals. However, it may prove to be much more abundant: in 2007, 25 individuals were recorded along 4 km of creeks (Lentino et al. 2007).

Trend justification
No data are available to confirm population trends and there have been few recent records. However, a population decline is precautionarily suspected owing to the loss of habitat through shifting cultivation, though its impact on the population is currently unclear (Collar et al. 1992).

Distribution and population

Thripophaga cherriei is found in a tiny area along the caño Capuana, in the upper río Orinoco in Venezuela, and around Puerto Inírida, Guainía, Colombia (Beckers and Flórez 2013, Remsen and Sharpe 2015, Sharpe 2015). Until 2012, it was known from just six specimens taken in 1899 and 1970, and observations since 1999 of up to three individuals (Colvee 2000, D. Willis in litt. 2003), all along the caño Capuana, a low-lying affluent of the upper río Orinoco in Venezuela. In 2007, a survey of the area found it to be common along the caños Capuana, Guacharaca and Grulla as well as along the nearby río Orinoco (Lentino et al. 2007). There is also a possible historic record from Junglaven on the río Ventuari, but there have been no further records at this site (D. Willis in litt. 2006). There are no other Venezuelan records despite surveys in adjacent areas (Colvee 2000). Its long-anticipated presence in Colombia was confirmed in 2012 (Beckers and Flórez 2013, Remsen and Sharpe 2015). At present its range covers just a few dozen km2 (Remsen and Sharpe 2015, Sharpe 2015). It could occur over a much larger area as its habitat appears to be widespread, but if this is the case it is perhaps surprising that its loud call has not led to its discovery elsewhere.


The species occurs at c.120 m altitude, in the understorey of riverine and humid forest, adjacent to rivers (Colvee 2000). Territories appear to be small, occupying 30-50 m along a creek (Lentino et al. 2007). It has been found in flooded creek-side forests, as well as riverine scrub (Lentino et al. 2007). Other aspects of its ecology are very poorly known (Remsen and Sharpe 2015).


The principal threat appears to be loss of habitat through unsustainable, shifting cultivation practices (Colvee 2000). 

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway

The Sipapo Forest Reserve encompasses its known distribution, but provides little effective protection for riverside habitats (Colvee 2000). Considered Vulnerable at the national level in Venezuela (Sharpe 2008, 2015).

Conservation Actions Proposed

Survey to assess its distribution and population size. Assess its ecological requirements. Improve protection of riverine habitats in Sipapo Forest Reserve. Grant protected status to any other occupied sites outside Sipapo Forest Reserve.


18 cm. Brown, streaked furnariid. Rufous-brown upperparts, richest on wings and tail. Faint buff-white supercilium. Orange chin patch. Rest of underparts olive-brown with numerous narrow, buffy-white streaks. Similar spp. Speckled Spinetail Cranioleuca gutturata has chestnut crown, pale breast with dusky spots and lacks orange chin patch. Voice Song a series of staccato notes, beginning slowly, accelerating in pace to a chattering crescendo, then falling slightly in pitch and volume; alarm call a scolding “chrrr”; a series of chattering notes also given (Remsen and Sharpe 2015).


Text account compilers
Isherwood, I., Sharpe, C.J., Symes, A., Clay, R.P., Hermes, C., Benstead, P., Calvert, R.

Lentino, M., Pérez-Emán, J., Sharpe, C J & Willis, D.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2021) Species factsheet: Thripophaga cherriei. Downloaded from on 04/12/2021. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2021) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 04/12/2021.