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Streak-backed Canastero - BirdForum Opus

Asthenes wyatti


17 cm. A dark canastero with a streaked back.

  • Narrow buff supercilium
  • Grizzled light brown and blackish rest of face
  • Olive-brown crown to uppertail-coverts with dense dark brown streaks
  • Dark fuscous wings with a rufous wingband
  • Dark fuscous brown graduated tail, rufous on outer webs
  • Tawny-buff chin
  • Light orange-rufous centre of upper throat with narrow dark brown streaks, lower throat pale brownish-grey with narrow streaks continuing from upper throat
  • Light brown breast with barely visible dark brown flecks and spots
  • Bright tawny-buff belly
  • Rufescent buff flanks and undertail-coverts
  • sanctaemartae with broader but less contrasting streaks above, darker orange throat, longer bill and dingy greyish-buff underparts
  • mucuchiesi similar to juvenile but with less brownish upperparts
  • perijanus similar to mucuchiesi but with darker brown upperparts, light brown underparts and dark chestnut-brown underside of tail
  • aequatorialis like nominate but with more grey-brown or rufous-brown upperparts, blacker tail and larger and blacker spots
  • azuay more buffy below than aequatorialis and with almost entirely rufous wings
  • graminicola is duller than azuay and with tawny underparts

Sexes similar, juveniles are darker brown, lack the throat patch and have less distinct streaks on upperparts.


South America: Andes from northern Colombia to Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia.
Rare to locally common.


Seven subspecies currently recognized:

  • A. w. wyatti in th arid Andes of northern Colombia (Santander)
  • A. w. sanctaemartae in the Santa Marta Mountains (northeast Colombia)
  • A. w. mucuchiesi in the Andes of northwestern Venezuela (Mérida)
  • A. w. perijana in the Sierra de Perijá (Colombia/Venezuela border)
  • A. w. aequatorialis in the western Andes of central Ecuador
  • A. w. azuay in the Andes of southern Ecuador (Azuay)
  • A. w. graminicola in the Andes of Peru (Junín, Cuzco, Huancavelica and Puno)

May form a superspecies with Puna Canastero and Austral Canastero and may possibly best treated as conspecific with Puna Canastero. azuay and graminicola have been treated as separate species and may be closer related to Puna Canastero as the other taxa. Species limit certainly in need of careful revision.


High-altitude paramo and puna grassland with rocks. Mainly in Espeletia mixed with shrubs and tussock grass in northern parts of range.
Occurs mostly at 3000 to 4500 m, locally higher or lower.



Feeds on arthropods.
Forages singly or in pairs mainly on the ground, gleaning items from the ground, from grass clumps or Espeletia foliage. Also recorded leaping into the air to catch flying insects.


Egg laying recorded in January, fledglings seen in April. Presumably a monogamous species. The nest is a round mass made of dried leaves and grass stems with an entrance hole on side. It's placed near the ground well concealed in a clump of grass. Lays 2 to 3 eggs.


A resident species. Some altitudinal movements reported during heavy snow.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2014. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: Version 6.9., with updates to August 2014. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive (retrieved March 2015)

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