Rufous Twistwing Cnipodectes superrufus


Justification of Red List Category
This newly described species is classified as Vulnerable because although widespread it occurs at low densities and is consequently suspected to have a small, patchily distributed population that is declining in line with habitat conversion within its range.

Population justification
The precise distribution and population density of this newly described species are not known, so no accurate population estimate is available. However, while Guadua bamboo habitat is widespread within its range, it appears to show a preference for larger patches, it is usually recorded in mature patches rather than regrowth, and it appears to be scarce throughout its range. Therefore, the species is precautionarily suspected to have a global population of less than 10,00 mature individuals, placed here in the band 2,500-9,999 mature individuals.

Trend justification
A relatively slow population decline is suspected based on ongoing development within its range. The rate of habitat conversion may increase in the future potentially impacting the species more rapidly.

Distribution and population

Cnipodectes superrufus has been recently described from an area of southwestern Amazonia bordering Madre de Dios, Peru, Acre, Brazil and Pando, Bolivia (Tobias et al. 2008). Its range has been estimated at c. 89,000 km2 corresponding to the area of Guadua bamboo dominated habitats; though it appears to be absent from some apparently suitable habitats (Tobias et al. 2008). Field surveys have found the species is the rarest of the bamboo specialists within the region (Tobias et al. 2008). It is a generally scarce species, and based on the extent of potentially suitable habitat it is thought possible that the global population is fewer than 10,000 mature individuals (Tobias et al. 2008). Its habitat is threatened by clearance for development projects, but Guadua may actually increase in area because it can proliferate on deforested land. However, the twistwing is usually recorded in large mature stands of bamboo and is rarely found in young Guadua regrowth, thus a decline is suspected (Tobias et al. 2008).


The species is a Guadua bamboo specialist, and its apparent absence from some well-studied sites suggests that it may only occur in larger patches (Lane et al. 2007). Its density within suitable habitat is not known; it is apparently the scarcest of the bamboo specialists within its range, but comparatively little ornithological work has been conducted in the region allowing the possibility that it may be found to be relatively common (Lane et al. 2007). The species has been observed perched 1-3 m above the ground from where it sallies after arthropods. Both Cnipodectes spp. perform regular wing raises; the purpose of this behaviour is unknown (Lane et al. 2007).


Preliminary evidence suggests that the species shows a preference for larger patches of mature Guadua bamboo. This habitat is threatened within the species range by development projects such as the Trans Oceanica Highway and the available area of mature bamboo stands is likely to decrease. The highway's construction is likely to open the region to further deforestation for cattle ranching and biofuels in the future.

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
It is not considered of conservation concern in Brazil. Two Peruvian sites, Pakitza and Playa Bonita are within the Manu Biosphere Zone (Lane et al. 2007). Several surveys have targeted and identified this species, improving knowledge of its global distribution.

Conservation Actions Proposed
Confirm the species's distribution by checking additional Guadua sites that may support it. Study its ecology assessing whether there is a relationship between presence and bamboo patch size/patch maturity. Map the potential impact of development projects within its range to assess future population declines and identify key sites for conservation/mitigation.


A tyrannid assignable to genus Cnipodectes by a combination of relatively large size; broad, flat bill surrounded by well-developed rictal bristles; shaggy plumage texture overall; broad, squared tertials with pale inner and outer edges; and primaries twisted in their orientation, with primaries 8-6 having a modified shaft structure on the underside and a raised ridge along the inner web (Lane et al. 2007). Similar spp. It can be distinguished from all forms of C. subbrunneus by its richly saturated rufous plumage, larger size, and proportionately narrower bill (Lane et al. 2007).


Text account compilers
Sharpe, C.J., Bird, J., Wheatley, H.

Lees, A., Cohn-Haft, M., Tobias, J.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2022) Species factsheet: Cnipodectes superrufus. Downloaded from on 30/09/2022. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2022) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 30/09/2022.