Rufous-browed Hemispingus Poospiza rufosuperciliaris


Justification of Red List Category
Although this species may have a restricted range, it is not believed to 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). The population size may be small, 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). The population trend is not known, but the population is not believed to be decreasing sufficiently rapidly to approach the thresholds under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.

Population justification
The population size is preliminarily estimated to fall into the band 2,500-9,999 individuals. This equates to 1,667-6,666 mature individuals, rounded here to 1,500-7,000 mature individuals. The species is rare and local throughout its range.

Trend justification
There are no known survey data for this species. Based on tree cover data (Tracewski et al. 2016), the extent of the species’s habitat is approximately stable, and we have no evidence that the species’s population is undergoing a decline.

Distribution and population

Hemispingus rufosuperciliaris is restricted to the east Andes of north-central Peru. It is rare and locally distributed in the Cordillera de Colán, Amazonas, and the Cordillera Central, south to east La Libertad and the Carpish Mountains, Huánuco (Ridgely and Tudor 1989, Fjeldså and Krabbe 1990, Clements and Shany 2001, Schulenberg et al. 2007).


It inhabits dense undergrowth in humid elfin forest near and just below the timberline, and shows a marked preference for extensive thickets of Chusquea bamboo (Ridgely and Tudor 1989). All records are at elevations of 2,500-3,500 m, but mostly above 2,800 m (Parker et al. 1996,  Schulenberg et al. 2007). Individuals tend to forage in pairs, perch-gleaning berries and insects in the undergrowth and on the ground (Ridgely and Tudor 1989, Fjeldså and Krabbe 1990). It occasionally associates with lower-storey, mixed-species flocks (Fjeldså and Krabbe 1990).


Timberline habitats in the Andes have been diminishing since humans settling in the area, primarily through the use of fire (Kessler and Herzog 1998). During the colonial period, sustainable land-use systems established by Pre-Columbian cultures were largely replaced with unsustainable agricultural techniques, including widespread burning (Kessler and Herzog 1998). Regular burning of páramo grassland, adjacent to elfin forest, to promote the growth of fresh shoots for livestock, has lowered the treeline by several hundred metres, and continues to destroy large areas of this species's habitat (Kessler and Herzog 1998). The human population density in large areas of the species's range is low (T. S. Schulenberg in litt. 1999), indicating that some of its populations may be relatively secure at present, however, there is a marked increase in number of cattle in northern Peru (J. Fjeldså in litt. 2007). In more populated areas, small fragmented remnants of elfin forest are additionally threatened by clearance for agriculture and grazing, with an alarmingly high rate of conversion to cash-crops in the (until relatively recently pristine) Cordillera de Colán (Barnes et al. 1995, Kessler and Herzog 1998).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway

It presumably occurs in Río Abiseo National Park.

Conservation Actions Proposed

Survey to determine more accurately its distribution. Confirm existence in Río Abiseo National Park. Improve land-use management by segregating agricultural, grazing and forest areas (Fjeldså and Kessler 1996). Regulate the use of fire (Fjeldså and Kessler 1996). Reintroduce old, high-yielding agricultural techniques (Fjeldså and Kessler 1996). Encourage local people to take a leading role in land-use management and restoration schemes (Fjeldså and Kessler 1996).


15 cm. Strikingly patterned, long-legged, dark and rufous tanager. Largely slaty upperparts and black ear-coverts, crown and nape. Long, tawny supercilium and slightly paler tawny underparts, except dark undertail-coverts. Similar spp. Unmistakable. Voice High to moderate-pitched song of short, squeaky notes, interspersed with longer squeals. Also a scratchy, nasal chenk. Hints Slow and deliberate actions, small groups occasionally accompany mixed-species flocks, but remain well hidden.


Text account compilers
Stuart, T., Pople, R., Symes, A., Sharpe, C.J., Isherwood, I., Smith, D.

Fjeldså, J. & Schulenberg, T.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2021) Species factsheet: Poospiza rufosuperciliaris. 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.