Family Ovenbirds (Furnariidae)

Near Threatened

Dusky Spinetail (Synallaxis moesta)


French: Synallaxe obscur German: Dunkeldickichtschlüpfer Spanish: Pijuí oscuro

Synallaxis mœsta

P. L. Sclater

, 1856,



Forms a species group with S. cabanisi and S. macconnelli, and genetic data#R confirm that the three form a clade. All have often been treated as conspecific, but present species differs from the two others in tail structure (often considered an important taxonomic character in this family), and recent molecular phylogeny found evidence that it is more closely related to the “S. ruficapilla group”#R (which see); further sampling required. Race brunneicaudalis formerly treated as separate species, but race obscura appears intermediate between it and nominate. Three subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • S. m. moesta P. L. Sclater, 1856 – foothills of E Andes in C Colombia (S Casanare S to NW Meta).
  • S. m. obscura Chapman, 1914 – E Andean foothills in S Colombia (Caquetá, Putumayo).
  • S. m. brunneicaudalis P. L. Sclater, 1858 – foothills of E Andes from extreme S Colombia (SE Nariño) S to NE Peru (Amazonas, N San Martín, W Loreto).
  • Descriptive notes

    16–17 cm; 20–25 g. Perhaps the darkest member of genus, and with deepest bill and relatively shortest tail. Nominate race has uniform dark sooty-grey face,... read more


    Little known; low nasal chattering, “rha-a-a-a-a-a-a-a”, may be call or song.


    River-edge forest edge, tropical lowland evergreen forest edge, secondary forest; dense undergrowth... read more

    Food and feeding

    Little known. Usually in pairs. Probably gleans arthropods from foliage and small branches within 1–2 m of ground.


    A nest found in E Ecuador contained one egg and a very young nestling in early Feb; nest was a large, bulky ball of sticks with a tubular... read more



    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened; currently considered Near Threatened. Uncommon and local. Evidently a true forest species, not found in heavily cut-over areas. Occurs within a... read more

    Recommended citation

    Remsen, J.V., Jr (2019). Dusky Spinetail (Synallaxis moesta). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 8 December 2019).