Red-shouldered Spinetail Synallaxis hellmayri


Justification of Red List category
This species has a very large range as assessed using a Minimum Convex Polygon, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (extent of occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size has not been quantified, but it is not believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). Therefore, this species is now listed as Least Concern.

Population justification
The population size of this species has not been quantified, but it is described as locally common and fairly widespread.

Trend justification
Data on population trends are lacking, but declines are likely to be occurring, owing to habitat loss.

Distribution and population

Synallaxis hellmayri inhabits several types of dry caatinga in extreme north Minas Gerais, north Bahia, west Pernambuco, Piauí, with an old specimen record from west Ceará, north-east Brazil (Whitney and Pacheco 1994, G. M. Kirwan in litt. 1999). Recent records in Bahia and Pernambuco have shown it to be locally common, even in areas disturbed by goats and cattle grazing (A. Whittaker and K. Zimmer in litt. 1999).


This species was thought to be largely restricted to vegetation with the abundant, large and terrestrial bromeliad Bromelia laciniosa (Whitney and Pacheco 1994), but this is apparently not true (A. Whittaker and K. Zimmer in litt. 1999). It occurs in a variety of dry caatinga habitats, including grazed areas.


Despite being more widespread and less habitat-restricted than previously thought, it is still threatened by conversion for agriculture, intensive grazing and burning, and exploitation of woody caatinga for charcoal.

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
Conservation Actions Proposed
Conduct further studies to determine how tolerant this species is of secondary or disturbed habitats, and determine precise ecological requirements. Encourage the protection of native caatinga habitats.


18 cm. A large dark spinetail. Dark grey brown, paler and tinged ochraceous on belly. Blackish throat patch bordered by greyish buff malar streak; face with darker shine. Dark brownish wings with contrasting rufous wing coverts. Large blackish, graduated tail. Slender but big blackish bill and strong legs. Iris yellow-orange. Similar spp. Larger and heavier billed than any other sympatric spinetail; none of which share the same plumage pattern. Voice A loud churring, which becomes stuttering and fades in volume; also a fast disyllabic, continually repeated and nasal kí-tre. Hints Skulks near the ground in dense vegetation in scrub and woodland, best seen shortly after dawn; often located by voice.


Text account compilers
Westrip, J., Butchart, S., Gilroy, J., Sharpe, C.J.

Kirwan, G., Whittaker, A., Zimmer, K.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Species factsheet: Synallaxis hellmayri. Downloaded from on 28/09/2023. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2023) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 28/09/2023.