White-bellied Cinclodes Cinclodes palliatus


Justification of Red List category
This species has an extremely small population. In the absence of direct data on the population trend, it is precautionarily assumed that the species is undergoing a continuing decline due to the destruction of wetland habitat on which it strictly depends, as such it is considered Critically Endangered.

Population justification
The species is rare and local, being absent from large areas of apparently suitable habitat. In 2003, 28 individuals were counted at six known sites (G. Engblom in litt. 2003); given the number of suitable bogs within its range it was suggested that the global population may potentially number as many as 200-1,000 individuals (G. Engblom in litt. 2003), but is probably closer to the lower figure (J. Barrio in litt. 2009; R. E. Gibbons in litt. 2009). During the surveys from 2008 to 2011, 104 bogs were searched yielding 113 individuals at 18 of these (J. Barrio in litt. 2012). Given the number of suitable bogs within its range it is estimated that the global population may number less than 300 individuals, which would include fewer than 250 mature individuals (J. Barrio in litt. 2012; see also SERFOR 2018). The population is thus here placed in the band 50-249 mature individuals.
The subpopulation structure has not been formally investigated. Nevertheless, given its very small range and occasional records of stray individuals far away from suitable habitat (eBird 2021; J. Barrio in litt. 2021), it is tentatively assumed that the species is able to disperse between sites, so that all individuals would belong to the same subpopulation.

Trend justification
The species is precautionarily inferred to be in decline as suitable bogs within the range have been destroyed by mining activities and are being degraded by overgrazing, through the dumping of deposits, and water and peat extraction. Formerly occupied sites have suffered from mining activities, leading to their partial or complete destruction and the local extinction of the species. At undisturbed sites, the species was found to be stable (F. Angulo in litt. 2021). The rate of population decline has not been quantified.

Distribution and population

Cinclodes palliatus is rare and very local in the high Andes of Peru in Junín, immediately adjacent Lima and (at least formerly) Huancavelica. Between 1952 and 2008, the majority of records came from six sites, confined within an area of c.24 km diameter. Single observations come from the Cordillera de Huayhuash, Huascarán (Ancash) and near Lago de Junín (Junín) (Harris 1980; Fjeldså and Krabbe 1990; L. Salinas per J. Barrio in litt. 2012). The type-specimen was collected at Montaña de Vítoc in the large massif west of La Oroya, Junín, drained by the río Vítoc. There have been no subsequent records in the localities in Huancavelica where specimens were collected in the 1930s and 1940s (Harris 1980), despite detailed surveys in 2009 (J. Barrio in litt. 2012), and further searches of suitable habitat have failed to find any record of the species between Huancavelica and Ayacucho departments, where it was incorrectly reported (J. Barrio in litt. 2012). A large survey from 2008 to 2011, throughout the distributional range, indicated that a 40 km strip in the central area of the distribution is the stronghold for the species, with 75% of the bogs there inhabited by White-bellied Cinclodes (J. Barrio in litt. 2012). 


The species inhabits boggy terrain from 4,430 m to the snowline at c.5,000 m (G. Engblom in litt. 2003; J. Barrio in litt. 2012; Schulenberg and Kirwan 2020). It appears to have very specific habitat requirements: mineral-rich, well-watered cushion-plant (e.g. Distichia) bogs with rocky outcrops and stony slopes nearby, often below glaciers (Fjeldså and Krabbe 1990; Schulenberg and Kirwan 2020). Birds are usually seen in pairs or small groups of 3-4 individuals (Fjeldså and Krabbe 1990), with a maximum of 6-7 birds in a group, rarely up to 12 (J. Barrio in litt. 2012). When feeding, it probes vegetation for worms, small frogs and insects (Schulenberg and Kirwan 2020). Its breeding ecology is unknown, except that the nest is placed in a crevice or under rocks (J. Barrio in litt. 2012); nests have been found in November, and fledglings in December and January (Schulenberg and Kirwan 2020).


Suitable habitat was previously subjected to relatively little human disturbance owing to its high altitude. However, the use of peat for mushroom-growing, private gardening and public parks in Lima has increased in the past ten years, and bogs are rapidly destroyed as their soil is transported to Lima (G. Engblom in litt. 2003). Some suitable habitat is apparently being overgrazed by alpacas, llamas and sheep (J. Barrio in litt. 2009). Mining operations are also causing habitat degradation through the dumping of deposits in bogs and lakes, and through the deliberate draining of some bogs, an activity that is estimated to be affecting over 50% of suitable sites (J. Barrio in litt. 2012). In addition, wetland areas in its range are threatened by water extraction for agriculture (C. Aucca Chutas in litt. 2008). The chances of this species surviving will greatly diminish if peat extraction and habitat alteration continue. Furthermore, having a montane distribution that is close to the maximum altitude within its range, this species is potentially susceptible to climate change (BirdLife International unpublished data).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
The species's distribution and population dynamics were studied between 2008 and 2010 (J. Barrio in litt. 2010, 2012).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Continue to conduct surveys to better determine its current distribution and population size, especially in the highlands of north-central Huancavelica (J. Barrio in litt. 2012). Assess the precise ecological requirements to determine reasons for its apparently restricted range and rarity. Monitor the population trend. Monitor changes in habitat caused by increasing peat extraction, and their effects on populations (G. Engblom in litt. 2003). Designate reserves to provide legal protection for known range areas. Restore wetlands within the range. Coordinate with mining companies on the protection of the bogs occurring inside their properties.


24 cm. Very large, white-and-rufous furnariid. Pale brownish-grey head and face, with black lores and dark ear-coverts. Brownish-rufous upperparts. Blackish wings with broad, white wingbar evident, even when perched. Blackish tail with white tips to outer rectrices. White underparts. Dusky legs and bill. Voice Chattering, long trill and loud chec call.


Text account compilers
Hermes, C.

Aucca Chutas, C., Barrio, J., Calvert, R., Engblom, G., Gibbons, R., Isherwood, I., O'Brien, A., Pople, R., Sharpe, C.J., Stuart, T., Symes, A. & Taylor, J.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Species factsheet: Cinclodes palliatus. Downloaded from on 29/09/2023. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2023) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 29/09/2023.