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Version 1.0

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Slaty-breasted Tinamou Crypturellus boucardi

Vitor Gomes, R. Bribiesca-Formisano, Claudia I. Rodríguez-Flores, Carlos A. Soberanes-González, and Marîa del Coro Arizmendi
Version: 1.0 — Published January 10, 2014


Distinguishing Characteristics

Tinamous are stocky, terrestrial birds with very short tails and rounded wings. Slaty-breasted Tinamou is a medium sized tinamou with slate gray head, neck, mantle and breast. From the back to the uppertail coverts, the plumage is deep chestnut, often with very obscure scaling or barring. The underparts are ash gray with an ochraceous tinge, especially on the belly, and with black barring on the undertail coverts and sometimes also on the flanks.

Similar Species

Five other species of tinamou occur in Central America and overlap with Slaty-breasted Tinamou. Great Tinamou (Tinamus major) is much larger (40-46 cm), has gray to light grayish blue tarsi, and generally is browner. Highland Tinamou (Nothocercus bonapartei) is larger (35-41 cm), the head has a dark sooty cap, and this species has a very rufescent breast. Little Tinamou (Crypturellus soui) is smaller than Slaty-breasted Tinamou, and has olive to olive yellow tars. Thicket Tinamou (Crypturellus cinnamomeus) has bold barring on the upperparts. Choco Tinamou (Crypturellus kerriae) has some greater coverts and innermost remiges with inconspicuous tiny black and buff notches, chest dusky ferruginous, merging into rufescent brown on rest of underparts; the female has black barring on upperwing-coverts and inner remiges.

Detailed Description

The following description is based on Blake (1977) and refers to nominate boucardi; see also Geographic Variation:

Adult male: Head, neck, upper back and breast slate gray, darkest on the crown. Back to uppertail coverts blackish to deep reddish brown or chestnut, often barred, very obscurely, with black, especially posteriorly. Wing coverts and inner remiges usually lighter and more olivaceous, and often lightly marked with black and spotted, sparsely, with ochraceous. Throat white. Lower foreneck and breast slate gray, becoming ash gray posteriorly; lower underparts, especially the belly, more or less tinged with ochraeous. Flanks uniform brown, or with black barring; crissum barred with black.

Adult female: Similar to male, but the wing coverts, inner remiges, rump, uppertail coverts, and flanks with conspicuous cinnamon or rufescent and black barring, the black barring also extending to the back. The underparts usually are paler and more ochraceous than in the male, and more heavily barred.


Little information. Lancaster (1964b) described the initial molts of Slaty-breasted Tinamou:

"Hatching began on the afternoon of May 3, 15 days after the start of incubation. ...
"By May 11 the distinct markings characteristic of the day-old chick had faded somewhat. Reddish-brown was apparent in the upper parts by the 13th but was lighter than in the adult plumage. The chicks were now about three times larger than at day 1. Barring was obvious on the wings and rump of both chicks, although it was more distinct on one chick. The browns on the head of the downy chicks had faded and were giving way to gray at ten days (May 13) and the presence of the two differently colored types of feathers gave the head and neck a ragged and mottled appearance. The wing coverts and scapulars were a dark blue-gray.

"At 15 days the remaining chick was about three-fourths as large as the adult. Except for the head and neck, the entire plumage now resembled that of an adult. The crown and occiput were solid blue-gray as in the adult, but the nape and upper neck still possessed part of the brown downy plumage. The dark line through the eye was present but now was poorly defined. The face was mottled, still largely buff, but with gray feathers appearing.

"At 20 days the remaining chick had acquired a fully adult plumage, except for a few scattered buffy feathers on the face and upper neck and a line of buffy feathers surrounding the dorsal margin of the eye" (Lancaster 1964b).

Bare Parts

Iris: brown

Bill: maxilla sooty brown; mandible pink

Tarsi and toes: pink to cherry red

Bare parts color data from Blake (1977).


Total length: 25.5-28 cm (Howell and Webb 1995), 28 cm (Stiles and Skutch 1989)

Linear measurements (from Blake 1977):

boucardi, male (n = 10)

wing length (flat): mean 174 mm (range 166-186 mm)

bill length (exposed culmen): mean 25.6 mm (range 23-29 mm)

boucardi, female (n = 10)

wing length: mean 173.8 mm (range 166-180 mm)

bill length (exposed culmen): mean 25.3 mm (range 23-26 mm)

costaricensis, male (n = 7)

wing length (flat): mean 171.7 mm (range 168-178 mm)

bill length (exposed culmen): mean 25.8 mm (range 23-28 mm)

costaricensis, female (n = 5)

wing length (flat): mean 174.6 mm (range 168-182 mm)

bill length (exposed culmen): mean 26.4 mm (range 25-28 mm)

Mass: male, mean 418.4 g ± 20.6 (range 375-464 g, n = 22; Russell 1964); male, mean 426.6 ± 14.3 g (range 368.5-467.0 g, n = 6; Smithe and Paynter 1963)

female, mean 459.1 g ± 46.1 (range 374-526 g, n = 21; Russell 1964); female, 463.4 and 474.1 g (Smithe and Paynter 1963)

Recommended Citation

Gomes, V., R. Bribiesca-Formisano, C. I. Rodríguez-Flores, C. A. Soberanes-González, and M. d. C. Arizmendi (2014). Slaty-breasted Tinamou (Crypturellus boucardi), version 1.0. In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/nb.slbtin1.01