Treehunters, Spotted Barbtail, treerunners, wiretail, tit-spinetails, thornbird

Uniform Treehunter - Thripadectes ignobilis
Uniform Treehunter
Thripadectes ignobilis
Mashpi, Pichincha, Ecuador.
A Chocó endemic, restricted to wet cloudforest of the western Andes in Ecuador and Colombia,. Despite its name, it is not particularly uniform, though can appear that way if seen in bad light. It has a rather short and stubby bill compared to other treehunters. (S11)

Black-billed Treehunter - Thripadectes melanorhynchus
Black-billed Treehunter
Thripadectes melanorhynchus melanorhynchus
WildSumaco, Napo Province, Ecuador.
Found in east slope cloudforest from Colombia to Peru. This bird was feeding on insects around a light near the lodge in the morning. (S7)

Striped Treehunter - Thripadectes holostictus
Striped Treehunter
Thripadectes holostictus striatidorsus
Tandayapa Valley, Pichincha province, Ecuador
Found in bamboo-laden Andean cloudforest from Venezuela to Bolivia. (S8)

Streak-capped Treehunter - Thripadectes virgaticeps
Streak-capped Treehunter
Thripadectes virgaticeps virgaticeps
Tandayapa Bird Lodge, Pichincha province, Ecuador.
This cloudforest species is generally uncommon in the Andes of Colombia, Venezuela, and Ecuador. Tandayapa is one of the easiest places to see it - they visit the forest blind and often even come around the lodge in the morning to eat moths. (S8)

Streak-capped Treehunter - Thripadectes virgaticeps
Streak-capped Treehunter
Thripadectes virgaticeps virgaticeps
Tandayapa Bird Lodge, Pichincha province, Ecuador.
8 Feb 2008. This bird was nesting in a cavity in a road cut at the lodge parking lot. Someone (probably a previous photographer) had stuck a dead branch into the road cut below the nest, and it became the pair's favorite perch. (S4)

Flammulated Treehunter - Thripadectes flammulatus
Flammulated Treehunter
Thripadectes flammulatus flammulatus
Yanacocha reserve, Pichincha province, Ecuador.
A badly backlit shot of this rare skulker. This was the first time in ten years of visits that I saw this bird at Yanacocha. (S6)

Spotted Barbtail - Premnoplex brunnescens
Spotted Barbtail
Premnoplex brunnescens brunnescens
Tandayapa Bird Lodge, Pichincha province, Ecuador.
A common understory species of montane cloudforest in much of the Neotropics. (S8)

Ruddy Treerunner - Margarornis rubiginosus
Ruddy Treerunner
Margarornis rubiginosus rubiginosus
Savege Valley, San José province, Costa Rica.
A Chiriquí Endemic, restricted to the mountains for Costa Rica and western Panama. (S6)

Fulvous-dotted Treerunner - Margarornis stellatus
Fulvous-dotted (Star-chested) Treerunner
Margarornis stellatus
Chical, Carchi province, Ecuador.
The rarest of the treerunners; it is a Chocó endemic, occuring only on the west slope of the Andes in Colombia and extreme NW Ecuador. (S7)

Pearled Treerunner - Margarornis squamiger
Pearled Treerunner
Margarornis squamiger peruvianus
Rio Chido trail, San Lorenzo, Amazonas department, Peru.
A beautiful bird of Andean cloudforests, usually seen following mixed species flocks. (S6)

Thorn-tailed Rayadito - Aphrastura spinicauda
Thorn-tailed Rayadito
Aphrastura spinicauda spinicauda
Garibaldi Pass, Tierra del Fuego, Argentina.
This handsome and inquisitive little bird was the most common species in the forests of southern Tierra del Fuego. It came up onto the top of this bush in response to my whistled imitation of Austral Pygmy-Owl. (S8)

Des Murs's Wiretail - Sylviorthorhynchus desmursii
Des Murs's Wiretail
Sylviorthorhynchus desmursii
Chiloe Island, Region X, Chile.
Sadly, this individual was missing the long cental pair of tail feathers that give it it's name. It is found through most of Chile and parts of adjacent Argentina. It is restricted to bamboo. (S5)

Brown-capped Tit-Spinetail - Leptasthenura fuliginiceps
Brown-capped Tit-Spinetail
Leptasthenura fuliginiceps paranensis
Los Cardones NP, Salta province, Argentina.
Found in montane scrub from Bolivia to northern Argentina. (S5)

Brown-capped Tit-Spinetail - Leptasthenura fuliginiceps
Brown-capped Tit-Spinetail
Leptasthenura fuliginiceps paranensis
Parque Provincial Potrero de Yala, Jujuy province, Argentina.

Tawny Tit-Spinetail - Leptasthenura yanacensis
Tawny Tit-Spinetail
Leptasthenura yanacensis
Abra Málaga, Cusco department, Peru.
An uncommon and very localized species in very high elevations of the Andes of Peru and Bolivia. It prefers Polylepis woodland and adjacent scrub. (S6)

Plain-mantled Tit-Spinetail - Leptasthenura aegithaloides
Plain-mantled Tit-Spinetail
Leptasthenura aegithaloides pallida
Valdés Peninsula, Chubut province, Argentina.
Found in dry scrub, both in the lowlands and high Andes, from southern Peru to Tierra del Fuego. (S6)

Plain-mantled Tit-Spinetail - Leptasthenura aegithaloides
Plain-mantled Tit-Spinetail
Leptasthenura aegithaloides pallida
Valdés Peninsula, Chubut province, Argentina.

Striolated Tit-Spinetail - Leptasthenura striolata
Striolated Tit-Spinetail
Leptasthenura striolata
Aparados da Serra National Park, Rio Grande do Sul state, Brazil.
Another Brazilian endemic, occurring in an inexplicably small area in southern Brazil. (D4)

Rusty-crowned Tit-Spinetail - Leptasthenura pileata
Rusty-crowned Tit-Spinetail
Leptasthenura pileata cajabambae
La Quinua, Pasco department, Peru.
Endemic to the Peruvian Andes. (S8)

White-browed Tit-Spinetail - Leptasthenura xenothorax
White-browed Tit-Spinetail
Leptasthenura xenothorax
Abra Málaga, Cusco department, Peru.
A rare and endangered species restricted to Polylepis woodland in southern Peru. (S6)

Andean Tit-Spinetail - Leptasthenura andicola
Andean Tit-Spinetail
Leptasthenura andicola andicola
Papallacta Pass, Pichincha province, Ecuador.

Araucaria Tit-Spinetail - Leptasthenura setaria
Araucaria Tit-Spinetail
Leptasthenura setaria
Hotel Veraneio Hampel, São Francisco de Paula, Rio Grande de Sul state, Brazil.
A neat little bird that seems to be totally restricted to Araucaria trees; I have never seen one land in any other kind of tree. Almost endemic to Brazil, but it does get into Argentina around Iguazú Falls. (D4)

Rufous-fronted Thornbird - Phacellodomus rufifrons
Rufous-fronted Thornbird
Phacellodomus rufifrons specularis
East of São João dos Patos, Maranhão state, Brazil.
This race, endemic to NE Brazil, has distinctive rufous patches in the primaries. This particular individual was in bamboo, a habitat I have never seen it in anywhere else in its range. (D3)

Little Thornbird - Phacellodomus sibilatrix
Little Thornbird
Phacellodomus sibilatrix
Palomitas, Salta province, Argentina.
A well-named bird, this is the smallest member of the genus, and can look very spinetail-like.  It is found mainly in the chaco region. (S8)

Streak-fronted Thornbird - Phacellodomus striaticeps
Streak-fronted Thornbird
Phacellodomus striaticeps striaticeps
Los Cardones NP, Salta province, Argentina.
A pair responding to playback. Found in the high Andes in southern Peru to northern Argentina. It seems to be more common southwards, and in Argentina it can be one of the most common birds in Andean scrub and puna. (S5)

Spot-breasted Thornbird - Phacellodomus maculipectus
Spot-breasted Thornbird
Phacellodomus maculipectus
Animas, Salta province, Argentina
Endemic to the yungas (cloudforest) of southern Bolivia and northern Argentina. Recently split from Freckle-breasted Thornbird (P. striaticollis) of the pampas region, a photo of which you can see below. Spot-breasted is much more boldly marked underneath. (S5)

Freckle-breasted Thornbird - Phacellodomus striaticollis
Freckle-breasted Thornbird
Phacellodomus striaticollis
Costanera Sur reserve, Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Endemic to the pampas region of southern Brazil, Uruguay, and northeastern Argengina. (S5)

Chestnut-backed Thornbird - Phacellodomus dorsalis
Chestnut-backed Thornbird
Phacellodomus dorsalis
Limón, Celendín-Balsas road, Cajamarca region, Peru.
An extremely local endemic to arid woodland and scrub in the upper Marañon Valley in northern Peru. (S8)

Greater Thornbird - Phacellodomus ruber
Greater Thornbird
Phacellodomus ruber
Lapinha da Serra, Minas Gerais state, Brazil.
Found in central South America, always near water. I was quite surprised to find it at this location, in the foothills of the Serra do Cipó in SE Brazil, which is at the southeastern edge of its known range. (S8)

Orange-eyed Thornbird - Phacellodomus erythrophthalmus
Orange-eyed Thornbird
Phacellodomus erythrophthalmus
Perequê, Rio de Janeiro state, Brazil.
Endemic to Southeast Brazil, where it prefers scrubby areas and young secondary forest. It was formerly considered conspecific with Orange-breasted Thornbird P. ferrugineigula (below), but they were finally split due to obvious differences in voice, plumage, and habitat. (S6)

Orange-breasted Thornbird - Phacellodomus ferrugineigula
Orange-breasted Thornbird
Phacellodomus ferrugineigula
Intervales State Park, São Paulo state, Brazil.
Endemic to marshes in southern Brazil and adjacent parts of Uruguay. It was formerly considered conspecific with Orange-eyed Thornbird (above). (S8)

"Mantaro" Thornbird - Phacellodomus sp. nov.
"Mantaro" Thornbird
Phacellodomus sp. nov.
Andamarca, Junín region, Peru.
An as-yet undescribed species of thornbird from the Andes of central Peru. (S8)

Website design and all photos copyright Nick Athanas
For questions, comments, or photograph licensing info, please email