Family Ovenbirds (Furnariidae)

Least Concern

Pale-breasted Spinetail (Synallaxis albescens)


French: Synallaxe albane German: Weißbauch-Dickichtschlüpfer Spanish: Pijuí pechiblanco

Synallaxis albescens


, 1823,

Cimeterio do Lambari, near Sorocaba, São Paulo, Brazil


Genetic data#R suggest that this species forms a group with S. frontalis, S. azarae and S. courseni. See also S. albigularis (above). Song of race australis distinctive, but, within that taxon’s range, birds in E Paraguay, N Bolivia (Beni) and SE Peru sing like other races whereas those in NW Uruguay, C Bolivia (Cochabamba) and throughout Argentina sing differently#R; a previously undetected taxon may be involved, although specimen evidence does not appear to reflect this. Populations from arid areas usually palest, although some variation (probably due to individual and age variation in small sample sizes), and many races tentatively recognized (especially in N South America). Proposed race hypoleuca (C Panama), described as paler below, is synonymous with latitabunda. Race nesiotis originally described (Margarita I, off N Venezuela) as like nominate but paler, but, with its distribution expanded to include large areas of mainland, distinguishing characters now unclear; proposed race trinitatis (Trinidad and N Venezuela) said to have darker crown and wing-coverts and more buff-brown back than that race, but these characters appear uncertain. Proposed race griseonota (confluence of R Tapajós and R Amazon), described as having paler crown and wing-coverts and more greyish underparts than inaequalis; may merit recognition. Ten subspecies tentatively recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • S. a. latitabunda Bangs, 1907 – SW Costa Rica, Panama and NW Colombia (Gulf of Urubá).
  • S. a. littoralis Todd, 1948 – coast of N Colombia.
  • S. a. insignis J. T. Zimmer, 1935 – N & C Colombia (Cauca and Magdalena Valleys, and Boyacá) and W Venezuela (S Apure).
  • S. a. perpallida Todd, 1916 – extreme N Colombia (Guajira Peninsula) and NW Venezuela (NW Zulia E to W Falcón, S to N shore of L Maracaibo and Lara).
  • S. a. occipitalis Madarász, 1903 – NW Venezuela (Sierra de Perijá, W Mérida and NW Táchira E through Falcón and Yaracuy to Miranda) and NC Colombia (Norte de Santander, Santander), evidently in montane areas.
  • S. a. nesiotis A. H. Clark, 1902 – N Colombia (Santa Marta region) and N Venezuela (S Táchira and Apure E to Sucre, Monagas, extreme N Amazonas and N Bolívar, also Margarita I and Cubagua I); also Trinidad, including Bocas Is.
  • S. a. josephinae C. Chubb, 1919 – S Venezuela (C Amazonas, C & S Bolívar, S Delta Amacuro), Guyana, Suriname and N Brazil (Roraima).
  • S. a. inaequalis J. T. Zimmer, 1935 – French Guiana and NC Brazil (both sides of R Amazon between R Madeira and R Tapajós); perhaps this race farther W, to extreme S Colombia (SE Amazonas) and adjacent Peru.
  • S. a. australis J. T. Zimmer, 1935 – extreme SE Peru (Madre de Dios), C & E Bolivia (Beni S to Tarija and Santa Cruz), W Paraguay, NW & C Argentina (Salta and Formosa S to Mendoza, La Pampa and Buenos Aires).
  • S. a. albescens Temminck, 1823 – E & S Brazil (Maranhão and Pernambuco W to Mato Grosso, S to Paraná), E Paraguay and NE Argentina (Misiones).
  • Descriptive notes

    13–16 cm; 9–17 g. Typical Synallaxis but slightly smaller and shorter-billed than most. Nominate race has pale brownish-grey face with weakly defined... read more


    Most frequent vocalization a buzzy, nasal “wéé-byew”, “wáke-... read more


    Cerrado, campo grasslands, pastures/agricultural lands, second-growth scrub;... read more

    Food and feeding

    Recorded food items are orthopterans, including grasshoppers (Acrididae), also stick-insects (Phasmidae), Coleoptera (including the... read more


    Breeds in Dec–Sept in Trinidad and during austral spring-summer in Argentina; eggs in May–Jul in Costa Rica, May in Panama, Jan... read more


    Presumably resident; populations breeding in extreme S of range suspected of being at least... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Fairly common to common over most of its large range; local or scarce in some regions, e.g. Santa Catarina (SE Brazil). Tolerant of moderate... read more

    Recommended citation

    Remsen, J.V., Jr (2020). Pale-breasted Spinetail (Synallaxis albescens). 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 23 January 2020).