Magellanic Tapaculo Scytalopus magellanicus Scientific name definitions

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



Magellanic Tapaculo appears to start its territory defense in September. Egg laying occurs between between October and November, and adults feed young from the end of November to the end of January in the southern portion of its distribution, such as Bariloche, Argentina (Ubiría, eBird) and Valdivia, Chile (Pérez, eBird); feeding young can continue until the end of February in the central Andes (Gallardo, eBird). Juveniles have even been seen in March in Tierra del Fuego (47, 39). It can raise two broods in the same season (17).

Nest Site

Microhabitat and Site Characteristics

The nest is located in holes or fissures between the bark and the trunk or branches of a tree, in tree-trunk cavities, in fern-covered banks or cuttings, or between the tangle of roots and vines of a fallen tree (3, 16, 61). The height of the nest in temperate forest varies from ground level to less than a meter, with an average height of 74.3 ± 13.8 cm (n = 42) above the ground; in the same study, nests were well concealed, showing on average 99.6 ± 0.4% concealment (n = 38). In Chiloe rainforests, the majority of nests (76%) were within 25 m of a forest edge (17). Individuals of the Andean population nest mostly in rock cavities, normally near creeks (9). Predation risk on nests can be reduced when they are located under high surrounding vegetation (62).


Construction Process

Little information, but both the male and female contribute to nest building (58).

Structure and Composition

The nest is a cup, covered inside with root fibers, lichens, branches, mosses, and reinforced with fine grasses, hair, and feathers (53, 2, 3, 61, 63).


In Chiloé, the entrances of the nest were of 20.9 ± 2.5 cm (n = 27) (17).

Reuse of Nests

Remarkably, De Santo et al. (17) described that successful nest sites can be reused. One nest site was reused twice in one breeding season, and at least 3 times over the course of their study (6 years).



The mean dimensions of the eggs are 22 ± 0.4 mm x 17 ± 0.4 mm (n = 38; 16, 15); eggs are large in relation to the size of the bird (53, 3).

Color and Surface Texture

As with other Scytalopus species, the eggs are white and dull (53, 3).

Clutch Size

The clutch usually ranges from 1–3 eggs (63, 3), but there are records of 4 eggs in Valdivia (53). In Chiloé, out of 10 nests studied, 9 had a clutch size of 3 eggs, and one had 2 nestlings (17). Clutch size may vary with latitude, as in other New World passerines (64).


Incubation Patches

A male was collected in Lago Ranco with a well-defined brood-patch (16). In other closely related species from same clade, a brood patch has only been noted in females (22).

Incubation Period

De Santo et al. (17) indicated that Magellanic Tapaculo had an incubation period of 19 d. In other closely related Scytalopus species, eggs took around 15 d to hatch (65).


Information needed.

Young Birds

The nestling period appears to be about 11 d (17).

Parental Care

Very little information. In other closely related species of Scytalopus, it was found that both parents share all activities, including brooding and feeding, but females apparently spend more time brooding than the males (58). Magellanic Tapaculo has been seen carrying fecal sacs from the nest in December in Altos de Lircay National Reserve (Urrea, eBird).

Cooperative Breeding

Information needed.

Brood Parasitism by Other Species

Not reported and not likely to occur. The only brood parasites that overlap geographically are the Shiny Cowbird (Molothrus bonariensis) and Screaming Cowbird (Molothrus rufoaxillaris), but there are no records of parasitism on this species or other any other tapaculo in Chile. In Argentina, the Shiny Cowbird does parasitize a tapaculo, the Crested Gallito (Rhinocrypta lanceolata) (66).

Fledgling Stage

Information needed.

Immature Stage

Information needed.

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