The Eye-ringed Thistletail is probably insectivorous.
It forages in humid scrubs and forest edges near the treeline, gleaning prey from vegetation and branches. It can be found in woody shrubs and small trees with moss and lichen.
It forages while remaining in the dense foliage, but it also comes to the ground, especially on moss-covered substrates.

The Eye-ringed Thistletail is territorial. Some observations describe territorial behaviour between pairs or individuals, suggesting defence of the territory by the owners.
The species is probably monogamous. We can suggest that the bright-coloured chin-patch, the conspicuous white eyering and the very long rufous tail are enhanced by adapted postures during the courtship displays.

The Eye-ringed Thistletail is often seen alone or in pairs. It may occasionally join single-species flocks of 10-15 individuals.

It is resident in the restricted range.
It only performs short flights between the foraging areas.

The breeding behaviour is very poorly known.
The members of genus Asthenes tend to build an elongated woven nest, often a cylindrical mass variable in size. It is usually made of thorny sticks woven together. The entrance tube is at the top. The nest-chamber is lined with soft material. This structure is placed in vegetation, bush, tree or thorny plant.
Information is lacking about the size of the clutch at high elevations where the climate is often quite cold.

The Eye-ringed Thistletail is a restricted-range species. It is described as relatively common in suitable habitat.
It is threatened by habitat loss through degradation and destruction for conversion to potato fields. At higher elevations, Escallonia woodland is cut for firewood.
The size of the population is unknown, but it is suspected to be declining, although the species is not considered globally threatened for the moment. The Eye-ringed Thistletail is currently evaluated as Least Concern.

Fr: Synallaxe à lunettes
Ang: Eye-ringed Thistletail
All: Brillen-Distelschwanz
Esp: Piscuiz de Anteojos
Ita: Codaspino quattrocchi
Nd: Oogringdistelstaart
Sd: junínborststjärt


Roger Ahlman
Pbase Galleries Peru and Ecuador

Text by Nicole Bouglouan


HANDBOOK OF THE BIRDS OF THE WORLD Vol 8 By Josep del Hoyo-Andrew Elliott-David Christie - Lynx Edicions - ISBN: 8487334504

BIRDS OF SOUTH AMERICA – Passerines - by Robert S. Ridgely and Guy Tudor – HELM Field Guides – ISBN: 9781408113424

BIRDS OF PERU by Thomas S. Schulenberg, Douglas F. Stotz, Daniel F. Lane, John P. O’Neill, Theodore A. Parker III – Princeton University Press 2007– ISBN: 978-0-691-13023-1

Avibase (Denis Lepage)

Birdlife International

HBW Alive

Peru Aves - Peru Birds

Neotropical Birds – Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Wikipedia, la enciclopedia libre


Home page

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Eye-ringed Thistletail
Asthenes palpebralis

Passeriformes Order – Furnariidae Family

The Eye-ringed Thistletail is endemic to Peru and occurs in C Peru, in Junín.
It was formerly in the genus Schizoeaca, in which interspecific variations are subtle and involve first the dorsal colour, presence or absence of eyering and superciliary, and coloured chin patch.
It is now included in the genus Asthenes where numerous species closely resemble each other with streaking or not streaking above and /or below, presence of orange-rufous chin patch, and the extent of rufous colour on the tail.  

The Eye-ringed Thistletail frequents the understorey of shrub woodlands near the treeline, up to 3,000/3,700 metres of elevation. It is probably insectivorous.
The breeding behaviour is poorly known, but the members of the genus Asthenes usually build a globular or cylindrical structure in tree. They are probably monogamous.
The Eye-ringed Thistletail is a restricted-range species which is relatively common in suitable habitat. It is affected by degradation and loss of this habitat, but it is not globally threatened for the moment.  

Length: 18-20 cm
Weight: 16-18 gr

The Eye-ringed Thistletail is slender, with long, deeply forked, graduated tail.
The adult has dark chestnut-brown upperparts and upperwing. The very long forked tail is brighter than rest of upperparts, often more rufescent. The rectrices appear “worn” and pointed, with the barbs reduced both in density and length distally.

On the underparts, the chin is conspicuous, usually rusty to orange-rufous. It contrasts with the rest of the uniformly grey underparts, usually paler towards the belly. Some individuals may show some whitish mottling. The flanks are washed brownish.

The head is dark chestnut-brown. There is a conspicuous, broad, white eyering contrasting with the dark brown face and lores.
The two-tone bill has black upper mandible and black to grey lower mandible. The eyes are pale grey to chestnut. Legs and feet are grey to blue-grey.
Male and female are similar.

The juvenile resembles adult but it lacks the chestnut chin-patch. The flanks are browner but the belly is paler.

The Eye-ringed Thistletail occurs in the Andes of C Peru, in Junín. The species is restricted to a very small range, between 3,000 and 3,700 metres of elevation.

The Eye-ringed Thistletail usually frequents the humid Andean elfin forest and high elevation cloud forest mixed with grass and ferns, near the treeline.

The Eye-ringed Thistletail is usually fairly vocal and often sings from within the understorey.
The call is a sharp, ascendant “peee” usually used as contact call between mates while they forage separately. It is also heard between territorial birds.
The song is a long, slightly undulating or accelerating dry chatter or trill, often ascending until near the end, before to fall sharply.
These trills may be given in series, connected by another series of rapid, scratchy “twee” or “tree” notes varying both in number and pitch.