Magellanic Tapaculo Scytalopus magellanicus Scientific name definitions

Vicente Pantoja and César Muñoz
Version: 2.0 — Published January 13, 2023



The Magellanic Tapaculo behaves like a mouse, sneaking near the ground and below the undergrowth. The bird is easier to hear than to see in natural conditions (53, 8). It sings in a vertical position inside or at the top of bushes, moving its entire body with each repetition.


Magellanic Tapaculo usually walks or runs in the understory. It does not commonly fly, and if it does, it is a short flight at low altitude (9).

Walking, Running, Hopping, Climbing, etc.

Largely terrestrial. As with many other tapaculos, this species often walks and jumps; it runs using long steps with its wings held away from its body in the understory (53).


The bird typically makes short flights between bushes or between rocks near rivers.


Information needed.

Agonistic Behavior

Territorial Behavior

In other Scytalopus of from the same clade (see Related Species), males defend their territory during the breeding season, responding to songs of other Scytalopus species and much more consistently to voices of their own species (22). According to De Santo et al. (17), it defends its territory during the breeding season from September to February, and probably before and after as well. When hearing a vocalization of its own species, it perches in exposed sites and moves back and forth singing (44).

Sexual Behavior

Mating System and Operational Sex Ratio

Although there is no direct evidence of the species being socially monogamous, this mating system has been suggested for other members of the genus (58), as well as others in the family (59), so it is likely that Magellanic Tapaculo is also monogamous.

Courtship, Copulation, and Pair Bond

In display, the Magellanic Tapaculo (presumably the male), sings intensively from a visible perch, but it is also common to hear them singing inside the bushes, moving from one perch to another, probably also related to territorial behavior.

Social and Interspecific Behavior

Degree of Sociality

Solitary or found in pairs.

Nonpredatory Interspecific Interactions

Agonistic behavior directed toward Des Murs's Wiretail (Sylviorthorhynchus desmursii) has been observed during the breeding season in January in Conguillío National Park (Saratscheff, eBird).


Chilean Hawk (Accipiter chilensis) (60) and the introduced American mink (Neogale vison) (48) are the only known predators. It appears that this latter species has reduced the once abundant population of Magellanic Tapaculo in Tierra del Fuego to just a few individuals (35, 48).

Recommended Citation

Pantoja, V. and C. Muñoz (2023). Magellanic Tapaculo (Scytalopus magellanicus), version 2.0. In Birds of the World (S. M. Billerman, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bow.magtap1.02