Magellanic Tapaculo Scytalopus magellanicus Scientific name definitions

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

Sounds and Vocal Behavior


Although typically among the easier Scytalopus to see, Magellanic Tapaculo is still far more often detected by its simple vocalizations. It has a relatively limited repertoire, and many aspects of its vocal behavior remain poorly known.


Vocal Development

Information needed.

Vocal Array

Song. A relatively simple series of two notes repeated many times; the first at 3–3.5 kHz and the second at 0.5 kHz higher, lasting for ca 0.3 s before a gap of ca 0.6 s and then repeated for minutes on end. Some minor variation in exact note shape. Also some variation in pace that is possibly linked to level of motivation.

Trill. A slightly falling trill 0.3–0.6 s long with 5–7 notes at ca. 3.5 kHz. Primarily given as a scold or alarm call, and used by both sexes. Some variation in length, with versions lasting as long as 0.7 s, a version with 3 notes at 3 kHz, and a version that is a 0.4 s series of 3 notes, with the first the longest at ca. 3.2 kHz, and the following 2 at ca. 2.8 kHz, with the last shortest. Another version consists of a slightly rising trill of 12–15 notes at 3.4–4 kHz, lasting 1.5–2s.

Pik call. Relatively rarely recorded, a brief and inconspicuous pik or peek note at ca. 2 kHz lasting ca. 0.6 s (XC60168), somewhat reminiscent of a single note from the song. Some versions also include doubled notes (XC199776). Context poorly known.

Geographic Variation

Not well known, but minor variations in note shapes in Songs should be studied to determine if there is a geographic component involved.


More study needed; most available recordings of Song during the austral summer and fall (December–March), while Trill calls have been recorded all year.

Daily Pattern of Vocalizing

Most vocal at dawn and dusk but can sing at any time of the day.

Places of Vocalizing

Song typically given from a low, hidden perch, including fallen logs and on the ground. Usually stationary while singing, but can move around during its long song bouts. Calls given from a variety of low, hidden perches, though highly alarmed birds may rise higher into the vegetation or perch more prominently while calling.

Sex Differences

Not well studied. Apparently does not have a separate female song as in many other Scytalopus species.

Repertoire and Delivery of Songs

Information needed.

Social Context and Presumed Functions of Vocalizations

Song functions as the primary territorial vocalization. Trill calls most often used as a scold or alarm call, but may serve other functions and more study needed. Pik call poorly understood and exact function not well known.

Nonvocal Sounds

None with communicative function.

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