Slenderbilled wren

Hylorchilus sumichrasti

TAXONOMY

Catherpes sumichrasti Lawrence, 1871, Mato Bejuco, Veracruz, Mexico.

OTHER COMMON NAMES

English: Sumichrast's wren; French: Troglodyte de Sumichrast; German: Schmalschnabel-Zaunkonig; Spanish; Saltaparad de Sumichrast.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

6-6.6 in (15-16.5 cm), 1.1 oz (29-30g). A bulky and dark-plumaged wren with a notably long and slender bill. Upper-parts including tail are a deep chocolate-brown. Wings are dull blackish brown. Throat is whitish brown, chest orange-brown,

belly rich chocolate-brown. Lower belly and flanks have small white spots. Eyes are brown; bill is very long, slender, and de-curved, blackish with dull orange-yellow base; legs are dark gray. Sexes are identical. The juvenile has a dull buff throat with diffuse scaling and whitish flecks on the belly.

DISTRIBUTION

Restricted area in the Mexican states of Veracruz, Oaxaca, and Puebla; total area is about 2,300 mi2 (6,000 km2), but actual range within this area is much less due to exacting habitat requirements.

HABITAT

Confined entirely to karst limestone country with large mature forest canopy.

BEHAVIOR

Typically hops over boulders, tail cocked, bobbing like a dipper. Is not excessively wary, but rather curious. Generally occurs low to the ground, rarely at any height in vegetation, and most frequently on rocks and boulders. Normally found alone or in pairs. Both sexes sing in a distinguishable manner. Males have two song types: one an arresting series of loud clear notes, finishing with a longer series of slow, descending notes; the other is a song of shorter notes alternating in pitch. Female song is a single note repeated in a series.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

Most often forages in mosses and lichens on boulders and rock faces, frequently disappearing into crevices. Food is almost entirely invertebrate.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Little known; only three nests described, two in crevices in rocks and one in roof of limestone cave. Eggs are white, number three, and are laid in May. Incubation and fledging periods are unknown. Not known if the species is multiple-brooded, or whether polygamy or nest-helping occur.

CONSERVATION STATUS

Near threatened. Highly restricted both in geographic range and in habitat. Does, however, seem to be able to tolerate some disturbance to habitat, such as the planting of coffee bushes, provided the disturbance is moderate. No part of its range is under formal protection.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS None known. ♦

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