Family Ovenbirds (Furnariidae)

Least Concern

Rufous-fronted Thornbird (Phacellodomus rufifrons)


French: Synallaxe à front roux German: Rotstirn-Bündelnister Spanish: Espinero frentirrufo

Anabates rufifrons


, 1821,

Riberão de Ressaca, Bahia–Minas Gerais border, Brazil


Usually considered conspecific with P. inornatus (which see). Race peruvianus may be separate species, and indeed has (with sincipitalis) a song that is as fast-paced as that of P. inornatus but as low-pitched as nominate (with specularis); further work needed. Proposed race fargoi (Paraguay and Mato Grosso) claimed to be browner above and with flanks and undertail-coverts more fulvous, but not reliably separable from sincipitalis. Four subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • P. r. peruvianus Hellmayr, 1925 – extreme S Ecuador (S Zamora-Chinchipe) and N Peru (upper Marañón Valley in Amazonas, Cajamarca and San Martín).
  • P. r. sincipitalis Cabanis, 1883 – Western Rufous-fronted Thornbird – E Bolivia (Beni, Santa Cruz, Tarija), S Brazil (S Mato Grosso, Mato Grosso do Sul), NC Paraguay and NW Argentina (Jujuy, Salta, Tucumán).
  • P. r. specularis Hellmayr, 1925 – NE Brazil (Pernambuco).
  • P. r. rufifrons (Wied, 1821) – Eastern Rufous-fronted Thornbird – E Brazil (S Maranhão, S Piauí and Bahia S to São Paulo).
  • Descriptive notes

    16–17 cm; 18–31 g. Rather plain, nondescript, arboreal furnariid. Nominate race has dull buff supercilium continuing anteriorly to supraloral area, dark greyish... read more


    Song a loud, strained series of shrill or nasal “chit” notes, slowly accelerating and... read more


    Arid lowland scrub, tropical deciduous forest, cerrado, arid montane scrub, secondary... read more

    Food and feeding

    Reported dietary items are Coleoptera (including families Curculionidae, Carabidae), Orthoptera (including Acrididae), Hemiptera, ants, and... read more


    During austral spring-summer, eggs in Oct–Dec and Mar in Argentina; laying from mid Sept to at least Dec in E Brazil (with season... read more



    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Common to fairly common in most parts of range. Occurs in numerous protected areas. Tolerates at least moderate anthropogenic habitat... read more

    Recommended citation

    Remsen, J.V., Jr & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Rufous-fronted Thornbird (Phacellodomus rufifrons). 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 27 January 2020).