Length: 14-15 cm

The Niceforo’s Wren has greyish-brown crown, nape and back. An obscure darker barring becomes more rufescent on back and upper rump. There are some whitish spots on lower back and upper rump, but they are often semi-concealed. The wing-coverts are dull rufous-brown with darker spots. On the wings, primaries and secondaries are blackish-brown on inner webs, whereas the outer webs are barred blackish and rufous-brown. The plumage appears strongly barred on closed wings. The tail is medium-brown with dark bars.
On the underparts, chin, throat and breast are white, but the sides of the breast are grey and mostly buffy-grey on flanks.

On the head, crown and nape are greyish-brown. We can see a conspicuous white supercilium and a greyish-brown eyestripe. The ear-coverts are mottled pale grey and dark grey-brown. The malar stripe is blackish.
The bill has horn-coloured upper mandible and whitish lower mandible. The eyes are reddish-brown, surrounded by narrow, bare, yellow eyering. Legs and feet are dull blue-grey.
Male and female are similar, but the juvenile has not yet been described.

The Niceforo’s Wren was first discovered near San Gil on the Río Fonce, to the west of the Eastern Andes Range in the department of Santander. But scattered populations have been discovered since 2003 in the basins of Chicamocha, Suarez and Sogamoso rivers in Boyacá and Santander departments.
More populations probably exist on the west slope of E Andes in Santander, Cesar and Norte de Santander.

The Niceforo’s Wren frequents the dense understory with forest fragments along water, often between 1,100 and 2,100 metres of elevation. This type of habitat provides leaf litter where the wren usually finds arthropods. The understory remains humid thanks to the canopy. But the species is also observed in gallery forest with large evergreen trees.

The song of the Niceforo’s Wren is similar to the song of the Rufous-and-white Wren, but there are some differences in the structure of the male’s song.
The song of the Niceforo’s Wren is significantly higher-pitched and shorter in total length. It contains fewer syllables and syllable types, and fewer trill syllables.
However, as this species is very difficult to find, it can be easily identified by its flute-like song.

The Niceforo’s Wren feeds mainly on various arthropods found in the leaf litter while foraging through the understory.
This species is largely terrestrial and usually forages within 2,50 metres of ground level. It searches for prey primarily in the leaf litter, but it also gleans for arthropods under dry leaves, and also pecks on branches and in tree holes or wood crevices.

The Niceforo’s Wren is monogamous. Both adults defend the territory during the breeding season.

The species is probably sedentary.
Like most Troglodytidae species, the Niceforo’s Wren has relatively short, rounded wings adapted to short flights among the dense vegetation.

The breeding season varies between July and October.
The first nest was discovered on 19 August 2004 at 1,164 metres of elevation, in the Provincia de Santander. A pair was building the nest by adding various materials, and among them grass and vegetal fibres.
It was a globular structure with a lateral “elbow-like” entrance downwards. It was placed 8 metres above the ground in the fork of a bush of Euphorbiaceae.
This nest was built near a wasp nest which was attached on another close branch, maybe as an anti-predatory strategy.
The tree where the nest was built was near a stream and a small road in a farming area.

A second nest found in October 2004 was similar and also near a wasp nest. It was made with moss-like bromeliads, long, dry plant fibres, fungal rhizomorphs and withered parts of fern fronds.  

On the other hand, from the observation of a fallen nest, the dimensions were 10 centimetres deep at the entrance, 24 centimetres long and 9 centimetres wide at the bottom. It was a very dense structure.
No more information.

The Niceforo’s Wren is found in very fragmented habitat involving discontinuous distribution.
The species is heavily threatened by destruction of the premontane forest along the River Chicamocha. But other problems exist such as cattle grazing, burning for agriculture expansion involving reduction of vegetal cover, landslides and firewood cutting causing forest destruction. Goat and cattle grazing destroy the Acacia scrub. Streams and rivers are drying too.
The Niceforo’s Wren is able to survive in much transformed landscapes, but it depends on forest remnants along streams and rivers.

The size of the population is roughly estimated at 30/200 mature individuals, but confirmation is needed.
The species is suspected to be declining due to agriculture expansion and loss of its forest habitat.    

The Niceforo’s Wren is currently classified as Critically Endangered.

Fr: Troglodyte de Niceforo
Ang: Niceforo’s Wren
All: Santanderzaunkönig
Esp: Cucarachero de Nicéforo
Ita: Scricciolo di Niceforo
Nd: Niceforo's Winterkoning
Sd: santandergärdsmyg


Dubi Shapiro
Dubi Shapiro Photo Galleries

Text by Nicole Bouglouan


HANDBOOK OF THE BIRDS OF THE WORLD Vol 10 by Josep del Hoyo-Andrew Elliott-David Christie - Lynx Edicions - ISBN: 8487334725

WRENS, DIPPERS AND THRASHERS by Brewer David – illustrated by Barry Kent  Mackay- Yale University Press - ISBN: 0300090595

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

A GUIDE TO THE BIRDS OF COLOMBIA by Steven L. Hilty and William L. Brown - Princeton University Press – ISBN 069108372X

Avibase (Denis Lepage)

Birdlife International

Birds of the World

ProAves - Por la Conservación en el País de las Aves

SORA - First nest description for Niceforo’s Wren - (Thryothorus nicefori): a critically endangered

University of Windsor - The Voice of Niceforo's Wren

Birds Colombia

Wikipedia, the free encyclopaedia


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Page Order Passeriformes

Page Family Troglodytidae

Summary cards


Niceforo’s Wren
Thryophilus nicefori

Passeriformes Order – Troglodytidae Family

The Niceforo’s Wren is endemic to Colombia. It was formerly a member of the genus Thrythorus, but it is now a monotypic full species.
It is found in a very restricted area in the central northern part of Colombia. It is usually found in dense understory mixed with forest fragments along rivers, between 1,100 and 2,100 metres of elevation. This type of habitat is covered with leaf litter providing food, and especially arthropods, to this species.
The Niceforo’s Wren is monogamous and territorial. It builds an elbow-shaped structure with a side entrance on the top and a globular base. The nest is often placed near hornet or wasp nests, probably as anti-predator strategy.

The Niceforo’s Wren is heavily threatened by forest destruction and cattle grazing causing fragmentation of the forest. Burning for agriculture also reduces the vegetal cover.
The small population is declining and the species is currently listed as Critically Endangered.

The name of this wren pays tribute to Brother Nicéforo María, a Colombian missionary and herpetologist who found many specimens.