Rusty-headed Spinetail Synallaxis fuscorufa


Justification of Red List Category
This species has a small range, in which suitable habitat is lost to agricultural activities, logging and burning. The rate of habitat loss is however low; the population is hence suspected to be stable and not currently under imminent risk. The species is therefore assessed as Near Threatened.

Population justification
The population size has not been quantified, but the species is described as common (Renjifo et al. 2016). Based on the small distribution range, the population is tentatively suspected to number below 10,000 mature individuals; it is therefore here placed in the band 2,500-9,999 mature individuals. This value however requires confirmation, and an accurate estimate of the population size is urgently needed.

Trend justification
The population trend has not been assessed directly. While deforestation has likely been severe in the past (e.g. Renjifo et al. 2016), tree cover loss within the range is currently proceeding at a rate of 2% over ten years (Global Forest Watch 2021, using Hansen et al. [2013] data and methods disclosed therein). As apart from forests the species also inhabits edges and secondary habitat (Remsen 2020), the current low rate of tree cover loss is unlikely to drive a population decline. In the absence of evidence of any declines or substantial threats, the population is therefore suspected to be stable.

Distribution and population

Synallaxis fuscorufa is endemic to the Santa Marta mountains of north Colombia.


Synallaxis fuscorufa is found in the undergrowth of montane forests, along forest edges, in altered habitat and in shrubs in open habitats (Hilty and Brown 1986, Renjifo et al. 2016). It is principally recorded at 2,000-3,000 m, but occasionally to 900 m (Hilty and Brown 1986). Its behaviour is similar to that of other Synallaxis species: It feeds as it moves energetically within shrubs and small branches principally 0.5-7 m above the ground. It is observed in pairs or family groups, which accompany mixed-species flocks. Breeding seems to occur between January and June (Renjifo et al. 2016).


Forests within the range are at risk from illegal agricultural expansion, encroachment, logging and burning (Dinerstein et al. 1995, Renjifo et al. 2016). Only 15% of the original vegetation in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta is currently unaltered (Stattersfield et al. 1998), and the species has lost over 40% of the original habitat within its range (Renjifo et al. 2016). Deforestation has however slowed down in recent years, as tree cover is lost at a rate of 2% over ten years (Global Forest Watch 2021, using Hansen et al. [2013] data and methods disclosed therein).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
The species occurs within the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta National Park. It is listed as Near Threatened as the national level in Colombia (Renjifo et al. 2016).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Accurately quantify the population size. Monitor the population trend. Monitor rates of habitat loss.
Increase the area of suitable habitat that has protected status, in part by increasing the limits of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta National Park to include the whole altitudinal gradient (Renjifo et al. 2016).


17 cm. Large orange-rufous spinetail. Head, neck and upper breast orange-rufous, as are wings and long tail. Back and flanks greyish-olive. Black throat patch usually concealed. Bill and legs dark. Similar spp. None within restricted range. Voice Call an oft-repeated nasal dit-dit-du.


Text account compilers
Hermes, C.

Isherwood, I., O'Brien, A., Salaman, P.G.W., Sharpe, C.J. & Symes, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2022) Species factsheet: Synallaxis fuscorufa. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 26/09/2022. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2022) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 26/09/2022.