It is found in the Andes where it has a certain degree of association with bamboo growths. Its name Synallaxis comes from the Greek sunallaxis = to change, which was assigned by Vieillot (1818) referring to characters that merited recognition as a different gender. The epithet unirufa comes from the Latin roots uni = solmamente and rufus = rufous or rust-colored.


It is 16-18 cm of lenght, and weighs 17-21 g. Both sexes similar. It has dark brown to reddish brown irises, gray legs, and a black bill with a paler lower jaw base. Nominal breed is almost entirely bright rufous in color with slightly paler forehead, loreal region blackish, and base of center throat feathers blackish. Its tail is long with hardened shafts and sharp tips. The young individual has brown upperparts, a head sometimes tinged with olive, and paler underparts.

Similar species

It could be confused with the Rufous Wren (Cinnycerthia unirufa) and Sepia-brown Wren (Cinnycerthia peruana) which differ by black barred wings and tail, as well as a rounded tail, not with sharp tips.

Regional Differences

Four subspecies are recognized: S. u. munoztebari, S. u. meridana, S. u. unirufa and S. u. ochrogaster. The first three subspecies are found in the country. The Munoztebari race in the Serranía del Perijá, is distinguished by being paler, without the base of the black throat feathers and a faint buff-colored surface. The meridianak race is found in Norte de Santander, it is also paler than the nominal race and with the base of the throat feathers more visible black. The nominal breed is found in the rest of the Andes.


It is found in the Andes from northwestern Venezuela to Peru. In Colombia it is distributed from 1700 to 3100 m above sea level in the Serranía del Perijá, in the southeast of the department of Norte de Santander in the Páramo de Tamá area, in the Eastern mountain range in the department of Cundinamarca and in the Central and Western mountain ranges.


It inhabits the understory of humid and very humid forests with abundant moss cover and in dwarf forests. It often uses forest edges and is found in bamboo growths in secondary forests.


Their diet is mainly made up of arthropods but it is unknown which groups in particular are part of it.


In Colombia fledglings have been registered in the month of April in the Serranía del Perijá. There is no further information about this aspect of his life story.


It stays in pairs, family groups, and commonly follows mixed flocks. It moves through dense understory, usually below 4 m to 0.5 m, where it captures its prey by gleaning on small branches and on foliage.


It is considered the sister species of S. castanea and both are probably closely related to S. fuscorrufa, with which they have come to be considered conspecific. The song of their races presents marked differences, which could suggest that they are several species, although the coloring patterns do not corroborate this.

Conservation status

At the national and international level, it is classified as a species of least concern.

Vocalization/ Song



Avibase (2018). Species factsheet: Synallaxis unirufa. Downloaded from https://avibase.bsc-eoc.org/species.jsp?lang=EN&avibaseid=DF37E15479FD2961

BirdLife International (2018) Species factsheet: Synallaxis unirufa. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 10/22/2018

Hilty, S. L. and W. L. Brown. 2001. Guide to the Birds of Colombia. Princetn. Univ. Press, Princeton, NJ.

The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2017-3. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 13 February 2018

Jobling, C. 2010. The Helm dictionary of scientific birds names. Christopher Helm and A & C Black Publishers Ltda. London. 433p.