Hoary-throated spinetail (Synallaxis kollari)

Hoary-throated spinetail in forest habitat
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Hoary-throated spinetail fact file

Hoary-throated spinetail description

GenusSynallaxis (1)

The hoary-throated spinetail (Synallaxis kollari) is a small, long-tailed bird with a bright reddish-brown body, a reddish-brown tail, yellowish-brown to whitish underparts, and distinctive head markings. The top of the head is grey-brown, with a reddish-brown stripe over the eye, and the cheeks are grey with a white stripe. The white throat is speckled black, giving this species its common name, and the lower throat is black (2) (3) (4) (5) (6). The tips of the flight feathers are a darker dusky brown, and the beak and legs are bluish-grey. The male and female hoary-throated spinetail are similar in appearance, but no descriptions of the juvenile are available (2) (3). The song of this species consists of two short notes, repeated at one-second intervals, with the first note higher pitched than the second (2) (3) (4) (6).

Also known as
Kollar's spinetail.
Poecilurus kollari.
Length: 14.5 - 16 cm (2) (3)
ca. 16 g (3)

Hoary-throated spinetail biology

Little is known about the biology of the hoary-throated spinetail. Like other members of the Furnariidae family, it is likely to feed on invertebrates such as insects, taking prey in dense undergrowth, near the ground (2) (3) (6). It probably feeds alone or in pairs (2) (3) (6), and is presumed to be monogamous (2), although very little is known about its life history. The only records of the hoary-throated spinetail’s breeding behaviour are of incomplete nests, one of which was found in July and was believed to have been constructed by both the male and female. Located in dense vegetation, it was cup-shaped and built from twigs (2) (3) (4) (8). However, it is likely that, as in related species, the completed nest would be a dome of sticks with a cover, a tubular entrance, and very little lining (3) (8).


Hoary-throated spinetail range

The hoary-throated spinetail is known only from a few sites along rivers in northern Roraima, Brazil, and in adjacent Guyana (2) (3) (4) (5) (6). It has a highly fragmented range, with patches of suitable habitat thought to total no more than 206 square kilometres (4) (7).


Hoary-throated spinetail habitat

The hoary-throated spinetail appears to be restricted to a narrow strip, under 500 metres wide, of seasonally flooded riverine forest. These forests are surrounded by savanna, and have an understorey of dense thickets and vines (2) (3) (4) (5) (6).


Hoary-throated spinetail status

The hoary-throated spinetail is classified as Critically Endangered (CR) on the IUCN Red List (1).

IUCN Red List species status – Critically Endangered


Hoary-throated spinetail threats

The main threat to the hoary-throated spinetail is the rapid conversion of its habitat to rice plantations, with the burning of vegetation potentially posing a further problem (3) (4) (7). Although still thought to be relatively common where it occurs, the species is restricted to a tiny and fragmented range, none of which is officially protected, and is believed to number only around 5,000 or so individuals (2) (3) (4) (7). With so little known about the hoary-throated spinetail, there is also the potential for unidentified threats to take a toll on the species before they are recognised (9).


Hoary-throated spinetail conservation

Although not occurring within officially protected areas, nearly 60 percent of the hoary-throated spinetail’s habitat is inside indigenous reserves, where the indigenous people have a much better record of maintaining the ecosystem than non-indigenous peoples. Most rice production in Roraima is carried out illegally by non-indigenous people on indigenous land, but in some areas, such as São Marcos Indigenous Reserve, rice producers have been evicted, hopefully giving renewed hope for the wildlife there (3) (4) (7). Producers should also have been evicted from Raposa-Serra do Sol following its legalisation in 2005, but this is not yet known to have occurred (3) (7).

Due to a lack of data on the hoary-throated spinetail, the species was taken off Brazil’s list of threatened species, although it is hoped that it will be put back on in the future (3) (7). Priorities for the conservation of the hoary-throated spinetail include improving knowledge about its ecology and behaviour, and taking measures to protect its habitat, including assessing the impact of recent fires, supporting indigenous peoples seeking to prevent habitat destruction within their reserves, and increasing the number of officially protected areas within Roraima (3) (4) (9) (10).

View information on this species at the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre.

Find out more

To find out more about the hoary-throated spinetail and its conservation see:



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Flight feathers
The feathers at the end of the wing, involved in flight.
Animals with no backbone, such as insects, crustaceans, worms, molluscs, spiders, cnidarians (jellyfish, corals, sea anemones), echinoderms, and others.
Having only one mate during a breeding season, or throughout the breeding life of a pair.


  1. IUCN Red List (August, 2012)
  2. del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A. and Sargatal, J. (2003) Handbook of the Birds of the World. Volume 8: Broadbills to Tapaculos. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.
  3. Vale, M.M. (2009) Hoary-throated Spinetail (Synallaxis kollari). In: Schulenberg, T.S. (Ed.) Neotropical Birds Online. Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca. Available at:
  4. BirdLife International (January, 2010)
  5. Ridgely, R.S. and Tudor, G. (1994) The Birds of South America: The Suboscine Passerines. Volume II. University of Texas Press, Austin, Texas.
  6. Ridgely, R.S. and Tudor, G. (2009) Field Guide to the Songbirds of South America: The Passerines. University of Texas Press, Austin, Texas.
  7. Vale, M.M., Bell, J.B., Alves, M.A.S. and Pimm, S.L. (2007) Abundance, distribution and conservation of Rio Branco antbird Cercomacra carbonaria and hoary-throated spinetail Synallaxis kollari. Bird Conservation International, 17: 245-257.
  8. Vale, M.M., Alves, M.A.S. and Nascimento, S.P. (2005) An incomplete nest of Poecilurus kollari in Roraima, Brazil. Cotinga, 24: 111-112.
  9. BirdLife International. (1992) Threatened Birds of the Americas. BirdLife International, Cambridge, UK. Available at:
  10. Santos, M.P.D. and da Silva, J.M.C. (2007) As aves das savannas de Roraima. Revista Brasileira de Ornitologia, 15(2): 189-207.

Image credit

Hoary-throated spinetail in forest habitat  
Hoary-throated spinetail in forest habitat

© Arthur Grosset

Arthur Grosset


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