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 - Tawny Antpitta

Tawny Antpitta Grallaria quitensis Scientific name definitions

Harold F. Greeney and Andrew J. Spencer
Version: 2.0 — Published September 1, 2023
Revision Notes

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In fact it is almost impossible to force this humpty-dumpty thrush-like bird to open its wings, its long, robust legs enabling it to leap and jump and run with almost as much address as the famous long-tailed Paisano or Road-runner of Mexico. Strange is it not, that such diversely feathered birds should have such similar habits?”—Samuel N. Rhoads, Volcán Pichincha, Ecuador (1: 144).

Among a family of notoriously skulking species, the Tawny Antpitta is the veritable “exception that proves the rule!” This dull-plumaged species is found in the high Andes from northern Colombia to northern Peru, where it is fairly common in elfin forest and adjacent páramos at elevations above 2,200 m, mainly above 2,800 m. Its song is easily imitated, and adults may sing from a perch that is partially or even fully exposed, making them an easy target for birdwatchers. The Tawny Antpitta is also frequently seen boldly hopping on the ground, well away from the cover of trees or shrubs. Principally brown above, the ocular region and lores are pale, and the underparts are bright tawny with whitish flecks. The three recognized subspecies are perhaps sufficiently different in plumage and vocalizations to be better regarded as separate species, but further research is required to prove or disprove this possibility. The nesting biology has been studied to some degree but, given the ease with which this species can be found and studied, it is surprising that the Tawny Antpitta is not among the best-studied members of the genus.

Distribution of the Tawny Antpitta - Range Map
  • Year-round
  • Migration
  • Breeding
  • Non-Breeding
Distribution of the Tawny Antpitta

Recommended Citation

Greeney, H. F. and A. J. Spencer (2023). Tawny Antpitta (Grallaria quitensis), version 2.0. In Birds of the World (N. D. Sly, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA.