Scaled Spinetail Cranioleuca muelleri


Justification of Red List Category
Based on a model of future deforestation in the Amazon basin it is suspected that its population will decline very rapidly over the next three generations, and it has therefore been uplisted from Least Concern to Endangered.

Population justification
This is a poorly known species and no population estimates are available. Apparently uncommon (Remsen and Sharpe 2014).

Trend justification
This species is suspected to lose 48.8-51.1% of suitable habitat within its distribution over three generations (11 years) based on a model of Amazonian deforestation (Soares-Filho et al. 2006, Bird et al. 2011). Given the susceptibility of the species to fragmentation and/or edge effects, it is therefore suspected to decline by ≥50% over three generations.

Distribution and population

Cranioleuca muelleri is endemic to the east Amazon River, Brazil. It ranges from extreme east Amazonas, east to south Amapá and Mexiana Island (del Hoyo et al. 2003).


This is an undergrowth species of Brazilian várzea (seasonally flooded forest). It ranges from 0-200 m elevation. One possible nest has been found, described as a globular mass of sticks, placed in a tree (del Hoyo et al. 2003).


The primary threat to this species is accelerating deforestation in the Amazon basin as land is cleared for cattle ranching and soy production, facilitated by expansion of the road network; it is thought likely to be particularly susceptible to fragmentation and edge effects (Soares-Filho et al. 2006, Bird et al. 2011, A. Lees in litt. 2011). Proposed changes to the Brazilian Forest Code reduce the percentage of land a private landowner is legally required to maintain as forest (including, critically, a reduction in the width of forest buffers alongside perennial steams) and include an amnesty for landowners who deforested before July 2008 (who would subsequently be absolved of the need to reforest illegally cleared land) (Bird et al. 2011).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
Occurs within 3408 km2 Anavilhanas National Park (Remsen and Sharpe 2014).

Conservation Actions Proposed

Expand the protected area network to effectively protect IBAs. Effectively resource and manage existing and new protected areas, utilising emerging opportunities to finance protected area management with the joint aims of reducing carbon emissions and maximizing biodiversity conservation. Conservation on private lands, through expanding market pressures for sound land management and preventing forest clearance on lands unsuitable for agriculture, is also essential (Soares-Filho et al. 2006). Campaign against proposed changes to the Brazilian Forest Code that would lead to a decrease in the width of the areas of riverine forest protected as Permanent Preservation Areas (APPs), which function as vital corridors in fragmented landscapes.


14-15 cm. Brown spinetail with scaly-looking underparts. Rufous crown, wings and tail, with rich dark brown back and rump. Narrow pale supercilium. Chin, throat, breast and belly white with dark brown feather tips, giving scaled appearance. Legs and feet are an olive-tinged yellow-green colour. Upper mandible blackish, lower mandible pinkish grey, both fading to pale at end.


Text account compilers
Butchart, S., Ekstrom, J., Khwaja, N., Symes, A., Sharpe, C J

Lees, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2021) Species factsheet: Cranioleuca muelleri. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 25/10/2021. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2021) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 25/10/2021.