Rufous-throated Dipper Cinclus schulzii


Justification of Red List Category
This species qualifies as Vulnerable owing to its small, fragmented and declining population (Collar et al. 1992).  There are apparently a large number of small subpopulations, which are mostly declining (especially in Argentina) as a result of changes in water management and possibly deforestation.

Population justification
The population is estimated to number 3,000-4,000 individuals, roughly equating to 2,000-2,700 mature individuals.

Trend justification
There are no new data on population size or trend, but current threats to occupied habitats suggest that slow or moderate, continuing declines are likely.

Distribution and population

This species occurs on the east Andean slope in south Bolivia (Tarija and Chuquisaca) and north-west Argentina (Jujuy, Salta, Tucumán, Catamarca).  It can be quite local, and most subpopulations appear to be very small. Estimates of the Bolivian population vary from up to 500 pairs (Ergueta and Morales 1996) to over 1,000 pairs (Tyler and Tyler 1996).  The latter figure is based on its widespread occurrence on permanent streams near Tarija, and it being locally common south of Narvaez (Tyler and Tyler 1996).  The Argentine population has been estimated at no more than 1,000 pairs (Tyler 1994).


It inhabits rivers and streams 5-15 m in width with relatively stable channels, cascades, waterfalls, mid-river rocks, and rocky cliffs or banks (Mazar Barnett et al. 1998b, Tyler and Tyler 1996).  It breeds in the alder Alnus acuminata zone at 1,500-2,500 m, descending to larger rivers at c.800 m during frosts (Tyler and Tyler 1996).  It has been found above and below the Alnus zone, and on streams running through pastureland in Bolivia (S. Mayer in litt. 1999), where it may breed (Mazar Barnett et al. 1998b).  Nests have been found in September-January, with territories of 500-1,000 m in length on suitable stretches of river (Tyler and Tyler 1996).


In Argentina, reservoir construction, hydroelectric and irrigation schemes and eutrophication threaten riverine habitats (Tyler and Tyler 1996), with pollution, reduced flows and river channel modifications most prevalent at lower altitudes (Tyler and Tyler 1996, S. Mayer in litt. 1999).  If forest is required for breeding, logging, livestock-grazing and subsequent soil erosion are significant problems (Tyler and Tyler 1996, S. Mayer in litt. 1999).  The introduction of exotic sport fish (e.g. trout) probably has a negative effect (A. Jaramillo in litt. 1999).  However, much habitat is protected by its inaccessibility (Ergueta and Morales 1996), and, in Bolivia, these threats have limited effects on few rivers (A. Jaramillo in litt. 1999).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
It occurs in Baritú, Calilegua and Campo de los Alisos National Parks and Portrero de Yala Provincial Park, Argentina, and Tariquía National Reserve, Bolivia (Wege and Long 1995).  The species's ecology is being studied in Tarija (Ergueta and Morales 1996).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Establish a river management system enabling birds to access rivers with high water quality and adjacent alder Alnus areas.  Redesign and implement the planned national park in the Nevados del Aconquija to include part of its range.  Survey rivers between known localities and Campo de los Alisos National Park, Tucumán (J. C. Chebez in litt. 1999).  Develop a public awareness campaign related to land-use and the protection of watersheds.  Reassess global population size and trend.


15 cm.  Subtly coloured dipper.  Dull slaty-grey.  Paler on head and face.  Pale pinky-rufous bib.  White patch in primaries visible in flight and when wing flicking. Short tail and rounded wings.  Dark bare parts.  Voice Typically series of raspy and metallic shenk calls.  Calls faster in flight.


Text account compilers
Gilroy, J., Sharpe, C J, Pople, R.

Jaramillo, A., Mayer, S., Chebez, J.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2022) Species factsheet: Cinclus schulzii. Downloaded from on 10/12/2022. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2022) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 10/12/2022.