Family Ovenbirds (Furnariidae)

Least Concern

Plain-crowned Spinetail (Synallaxis gujanensis)


French: Synallaxe de Cayenne German: Braunkappen-Dickichtschlüpfer Spanish: Pijuí coronipardo

Motacilla gujanensis

J. F. Gmelin

, 1789,

Guiana = “Cayenne”


Closely related to S. maranonica and S. albilora (with simoni; see below), and often treated as conspecific; DNA data#R show that these taxa form a monophyletic group. S races of present species, which vary clinally stepwise, are vocally closer to S. albilora#R and become more like it in plumage as ranges approach each other. Thorough analysis of species limits required. Boundaries of some races uncertain, inornata intergrading with certhiola in Beni Valley (Bolivia), and birds from lower R Purus E to lower R Madeira (Brazil) apparently intermediate between inornata and nominate; rigorous analysis may reveal widespread clinal variation. Six subspecies currently recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • S. g. columbiana Chapman, 1914 – E Colombia (W Meta S to Putumayo).
  • S. g. gujanensis (J. F. Gmelin, 1789) – E & S Venezuela (E Monagas S to Bolívar and N Amazonas), the Guianas and N & E Brazil (Amazonas and N Roraima E to Amapá and, S of R Amazon, from Pará and N Mato Grosso E to Maranhão).
  • S. g. huallagae Cory, 1919 – E Ecuador (Sucumbíos, Orellana), SE Colombia (Amazonas), E Peru (Loreto S to E Cuzco and Madre de Dios) and N Bolivia (Pando).
  • S. g. canipileus Chapman, 1923 – SE Peru (W Cuzco, Puno).
  • S. g. inornata Pelzeln, 1856 – WC Brazil (Amazonas S of R Amazon) S to NE Bolivia (E Beni).
  • S. g. certhiola Todd, 1916 – E Bolivia (S Beni S to Santa Cruz).
  • Descriptive notes

    15–17 cm; 13–22 g. One of the dullest and plainest Synallaxis. Nominate race has mostly plain dull greyish-brown face, hint of greyish-buff supercilium;... read more


    Song a sharp “téw, hu” or “kéék, uh”, second note much... read more


    River-edge forest, secondary forest, gallery forest; undergrowth in riverine habitats, from tall... read more

    Food and feeding

    Arthropods; Orthoptera and larvae of Lepidoptera recorded. Usually in pairs. Gleans items from small branches, foliage and grass within 1... read more


    Eggs in Jan, Mar, May–Sept and Dec in Surinam. Presumably monogamous. Nest a globular mass c. 65 cm long × 25 cm × 25 cm... read more



    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Fairly common to common in most of its range. Rather local in Venezuela.

    Recommended citation

    Remsen, J.V., Jr (2019). Plain-crowned Spinetail (Synallaxis gujanensis). 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 11 December 2019).