Band-tailed earthcreeper -- 斑尾爬地雀 (Ochetorhynchus phoenicurus)

Band-tailed earthcreeper
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Band-tailed earthcreeper fact file

Band-tailed earthcreeper description

GenusOchetorhynchus (1)

The band-tailed earthcreeper is a small, brown earthcreeper with a quite distinctive and striking bicoloured tail, which is mainly black but has a contrasting reddish-brown base (2) (4). The upperparts of the body are light greyish-brown and the underparts are pale greyish, with whitish streaks on the breast and flanks. The throat is white, and there is a white line above the eye. The legs are blackish. The dark beak is thin and straight, with a yellow or greyish base to the lower mandible (2) (4) (5). Male and female band-tailed earthcreepers are similar in appearance, while the juvenile has pale feather tips on the forehead, and less streaking on the breast and belly (2). The song is a fast, dry trill that sometimes ends with distinct, sharp notes, while the alarm call is a repeated, husky suwee (2) (4).

Also known as
Band-tailed eremobius.
Eremobius phoenicurus.
Length: 16 - 17 cm (2)
28 - 34 g (2)

Band-tailed earthcreeper biology

As its common name suggests, the band-tailed earthcreeper spends most of its time on the ground, running rapidly between bushes and rocks, usually with the tail held high, but generally avoiding open areas (4) (5). Individuals sometimes perch conspicuously on top of a bush when singing, but more usually remain hidden (4). Most foraging is solitary, or in pairs (2) (5). The diet of the band-tailed earthcreeper comprises mainly arthropods, which it probes for or gleans from the ground, from around stones or in rock crevices, in grass clumps or in vegetation (2) (4).

Breeding occurs during the summer, possibly from September. The species is presumed to be monogamous, and builds a large, domed nest in a bush or cactus, about one to two metres above the ground (2) (6). Built from interwoven thorny sticks, the nest may measure around 55 by 30 centimetres, with an entrance tunnel about 25 centimetres long which leads to a rounded chamber, the floor of which is a woven mat of grasses, topped with hair, spider webs, dry flowers and feathers (2). Interestingly, this structure differs quite markedly from the nests of all other members of the Furnariidae family (6). Clutch size is two to four eggs (2).


Band-tailed earthcreeper range

The band-tailed earthcreeper occurs on the Patagonian Steppes of southern Argentina and extreme southern Chile (1) (2) (4) (5).


Band-tailed earthcreeper habitat

The band-tailed earthcreeper inhabits arid lowland scrub, temperate grassland, sparsely vegetated shrubby plains, plateaux and slopes, at elevations of up to 1,200 metres (2) (4). The species is often associated with thorny Monthea shrubs (2).


Band-tailed earthcreeper status

Classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List (3).

IUCN Red List species status – Least Concern


Band-tailed earthcreeper threats

The band-tailed earthcreeper has a large range and is not thought to be undergoing a rapid decline (1). It is reported to be fairly common within its habitat, which appears to be relatively secure (2), although overgrazing by domestic livestock is a potential threat, damaging the limited plant cover and exposing the soil to erosion (2) (7). There is no information available on the possible impacts of habitat loss on this species.


Band-tailed earthcreeper conservation

There are currently no known conservation measures in place for the band-tailed earthcreeper. There are many protected areas in the Patagonian Steppes (7), but little information is available as to the presence of this species within these.


Find out more

For more information on the band-tailed earthcreeper see:



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A very diverse phylum (a major grouping of animals) that includes crustaceans, insects and arachnids. All arthropods have paired jointed limbs and a hard external skeleton (exoskeleton).
In birds, the lower jaw and beak, but the term is also used to denote the two parts of the beak.
Having only one mate during a breeding season, or throughout the breeding life of a pair.
Patagonian Steppe
A cold desert scrub region of southern Argentina and Chile, bordered on the west by the cold temperate forest slopes of the Andes, and in the east by the Pacific Ocean. Vegetation types in this region include shrub-steppe (arid grassland with scattered shrubs), grassland and semi-desert.


  1. BirdLife International (June, 2009)
  2. del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A. and Sargatal, J. (2003) Handbook of the Birds of the World. Volume 8: Broadbills to Tapaculos. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.
  3. IUCN Red List (June, 2009)
  4. Ridgely, R.S. and Tudor, G. (1994) The Birds of South America: The Suboscine Passerines. Volume II. University of Texas Press, Austin, Texas.
  5. Aves de Chile (June, 2009)
  6. Chesser, R.T., Barker, F.K. and Brumfield, R.T. (2007) Fourfold polyphyly of the genus formerly known as Upucerthia, with notes on the systematics and evolution of the avian subfamily Furnariinae. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 44: 1320 - 1332.
  7. WWF: Patagonian Steppe (June, 2009)

Image credit

Band-tailed earthcreeper  
Band-tailed earthcreeper

© Alec Earnshaw

Alec Earnshaw


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