Rufous-necked Foliage-gleaner Syndactyla ruficollis


Justification of Red List Category
This species's range is small, severely fragmented and declining rapidly (Collar et al. 1992, Best et al. 1993). It is therefore listed as Vulnerable.

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

Syndactyla ruficollis occurs on the foothills and slopes of the west Andes in south-west Ecuador (El Oro and Loja) and north-west Peru (Tumbes, Piura, Lambayeque and Cajamarca). Although formerly generally common at some sites, e.g. El Tundo Nature Reserve (Jiggins et al. 1999) and forest patches around Celica, Ecuador, the population has probably declined substantially in recent decades, owing to loss of suitable habitat from a large proportion of its already naturally restricted range (Ridgely and Tudor 1994). Now uncommon and local (Schulenberg et al. 2007, Athanas and Greenfield 2016).


It inhabits evergreen, semi-deciduous and deciduous forests at 400-2,900 m, being most abundant above 1,600 m. It tolerates considerable forest disturbance, tending to forage alone or in pairs (occasionally small groups), often with mixed-species flocks. In Bosque de Cuyas, Peru, it occurs in secondary growth as well as pristine forest (Vellinga et al. 2004). It generally keeps high in trees, foraging on large branches and probing bases of bromeliads and ferns, but is also occasionally recorded flicking leaves on forest floor. The nest is unknown, but breeding is thought to take place during the wet season, in January-May.


Below 900 m, the rate of deforestation in west Ecuador in 1958-1988 was 57% per decade (Dodson and Gentry 1991). Significant habitat loss is ongoing, at least in unprotected areas, and will soon remove almost all remaining lowland forest unless effective action is taken urgently. Intense trampling and grazing of extant forest by goats and cattle prevent tree regeneration, especially in deciduous forest. At higher elevations within its range, rates of habitat destruction in most areas are not as great, but logging, agricultural conversion and plantations are replacing and degrading forest (Dodson and Gentry 1991, Jiggins et al. 1999) and habitat loss remains high at higher elevations in areas such as Celica, Alamor and Catacocha (J. Freile in litt. 2008). Cutting of bamboo for pack-animal food is also a problem.

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
Populations are protected within the small El Tundo Nature Reserve (c.1.5 km2) where it is common (Jiggins et al. 1999) and the adjacent 8,000 ha Jatumpamba-Jorupe Protected Forest (J. Freile in litt. 2008), near Sozoranga; and the small Utuana reserve, Loja, Ecuador (J. Freile in litt. 2008). It also occurs in three protected areas in Peru: Cerros de Amotape National Park, El Angolo Hunting Reserve and Laquipampa Wildlife Refuge (Angulo et al. 2012).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Protect some remaining highland forest in west Loja. Secure continued protection of Chiñama Forest. Survey its population and range.


18 cm. Pale, buff-and-rufous furnariid. Brown-rufous crown grades into cinnamon-rufous upperparts. Rufescent wings, bright rufous tail. Buffy-rufous eyebrow and dusky neck sides and eye-stripe. Grey ear-coverts and area below eye, with whitish markings. Cinnamon-buff throat, brighter on sides. Rest of underparts olive-brown, with irregular buffy streaking on breast. Voice Song a series of harsh, nasal notes that start slowly and speed up. Sharp ank call.


Text account compilers
Isherwood, I., Pople, R., Sharpe, C J, Symes, A.

Freile, J.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2021) Species factsheet: Syndactyla ruficollis. Downloaded from on 21/10/2021. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2021) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 21/10/2021.