Rufous-throated Wren-babbler Spelaeornis caudatus


Justification of Red List Category
This species has a restricted global range and may have a moderately small population, which is likely to be declining as a result of habitat loss.  However, it is a highly unobtrusive species, and future surveys may reveal that it is more common and widespread than previous records suggest.  Based on current evidence, it is considered Near Threatened.

Population justification
The global population size has not been quantified, but the species is described as very rare in Nepal, frequently recorded in Bhutan, and locally common in India (del Hoyo et al. 2007).

Trend justification
This species is suspected to be declining slowly, as a result of habitat loss within parts of its range, although precise data on trends are lacking.

Distribution and population

Spelaeornis caudatus occurs in Nepal (very rare and local in the east), Bhutan (uncommon) and India (where it is locally common in Sikkim, northern West Bengal and Arunachal Pradesh).  As it is a highly skulking species and easily overlooked, further research may reveal it to be more widespread and abundant than current records imply.


This species inhabits dense undergrowth of moist evergreen forest, often in steep gullies, especially where ferns, mossy rocks and fallen trees abound, from 1,500 m to 2,500 m, perhaps occasionally to 3,100 m.


Within its limited range, this species is threatened by the destruction and fragmentation of forest, chiefly through logging and shifting cultivation, and in Nepal by forest loss and degradation to supply local peoples’ needs for fuelwood, wood for building materials, livestock fodder and livestock overgrazing (Inskipp et al. 2016).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
No targeted conservation actions are known for this species.

Conservation Actions Proposed
Conduct repeated surveys within the range to determine current distribution and abundance, as well as assess population trends and rates of habitat loss.  Conduct ecological studies to improve understanding of its precise habitat requirements, tolerance of secondary habitats and response to fragmentation.  Effectively protect significant areas of suitable forest at key sites, in both strictly protected areas and community-led multiple use areas.


Text account compilers
Martin, R, Westrip, J., Benstead, P., Gilroy, J., Taylor, J.

Baral, H., Thakur, M., Inskipp, C.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2020) Species factsheet: Spelaeornis caudatus. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 06/04/2020. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2020) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 06/04/2020.