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Grallaria milleri

Brown-banded Antpitta

  • Order: Passeriformes
  • Family: Grallariidae
  • Monotypic

Authors: Greeney, Harold F



Brown-banded Antpitta, like other species of Grallaria, has an erect posture, long legs, and a very short tail, which gives it the distinctive antpitta silhouette. Rather plain overall, both sexes have dark brown upper parts, including the sides of the head, and gray lores. The throat is pale gray, the breast and flanks brownish, and the belly is similar in color to the throat.

Similar Species

Brown-banded Antpitta is relatively plainly marked compared with sympatric congeners. It differs from Tawny Antpitta (Grallaria quitensis), of higher elevations, by having a distinct band across the breast and being generally darker and browner (rather than pale ochraceous).


The song of Brown-banded Antpitta is short (1.1 s), generally given at intervals of 8-9 seconds, and consists of a series of 3 clear whistles with a slight pause after the first note. The last two notes, especially the last, are higher in pitch than the first note (Krabbe and Schulenberg 2003, Restall et al. 2006, McMullan et al. 2010).

The frequently heard call of Brown-banded Antpitta is a loud, whistled wooee (Kattan and Beltrán 1997).

Additional audio recordings of vocalizations of Brown-banded Antpitta can be heard at xeno-canto and at Internet Bird Collection.

Nonvocal Sounds

None described.

Detailed Description (appearance)

The plumage of Brown-banded Antpitta is uncomplicated and dull. Except in juvenile birds, the plumage is unstreaked. The crown, nape, back, wings, and tail are dull, dark brown, with the sides of the head slightly paler. The lores are pale gray to whitish, as is the throat and belly. The whitish underparts are broken by a diffuse, but distinct, pale brown to ochraceous band across the chest. The sides of the neck are a blend in colors of the back a breast band, and this brown ochraceous coloration extends backward onto the flanks and forward, to a lesser degree, onto the face and auriculars.

Original description from Chapman (1912):
"Female adult.- Above, deep, rich raw-umber, crown of the same color as the back, lores whitish with a slight admixture of black; ear-coverts and auricular region more ochraceous than back; rump slightly paler than upper tail-coverts which are of the same color as the back; tail fuscous, its exposed portions slightly more olivaceous or, in some specimens, more rufescent than back; exposed portions of wing quills essentially like the tail, the wing-coverts more like the back in color, two outer primaries nearly uniform fuscous with little if any brownish on their outer margin; under wing-coverts orange-tawny, inner margins of inner wing-quills narrowly
ochraceous for about the basal half, throat grayish white, sides of the throat and a broad breast band tawny-olive, sides and flanks more olivaceous; abdomen smokegray, medianlv creamy-white; under tail-coverts mixed gray, and olivaceous; thighs sepia; feet and bill blackish, the tip of the latter horn-color.

Male adult.- Resembles the female in color and in size."

Bare Parts

Iris: dark brown

Bill: black with slightly paler tip

Tarsi and toes: slaty gray to blackish


Total length: 16.5 cm (Meyer de Schaunesee 1964, Krabbe and Schulenberg 2003), 17 cm (Restall et al. 2006), 18 cm (Hilty and Brown 1986)

Linear measurements:

wing chord 89.6 ± 3.5 mm; culmen, 19.3 ± 1.4 mm; gape 14.0 ± 1.4 mm; tarsus 46.6 ± 1.9 mm (n = 18; Kattan and Beltran 1999).

wing 85 mm; tail 53 mm; culmen 19 mm; tarsus 42 mm (n = 1, female [holotype]; Chapman 1923).

Mass: mean 52.5 ± 3.2 g (n = 18, unsexed; Kattan and Beltran 1999)


No specific information.

Geographic Variation

 Monotypic. Until further evidence presents itself, like Sclater (1890), I consider the recently described subspecies of Brown-banded Antptitta (Grallaria milleri gilesi; Salaman et al. 2009), which is known from a single specimen, to be a juvenile individual of milleri which is in the very final stages of losing its juvenile plumage.


Described as Grallaria milleri Chapman 1912; type locality "Laguneta, alt. 10,300 ft.[1140 m], Central Andes, near Quindio Pass, Cauca, Colombia" (Chapman 1912: 147).

This species is named in honor of Leo E. Miller.

The relationships of Grallaria milleri to other members of the genus are unresolved. Recent phylogenetic analyses of Grallaria, based on DNA sequence data, are incomplete and do not include Brown-banded Antpitta (Krabbe et al. 1999, Rice 2005).

Based on general plumage and morphological characteristics, Brown-banded Antpitta falls within the subgenus Oropezus (Ridgway 1909, Lowery and O’Neill 1969). This group contains G. rufocinerea (Bicolored Antpitta), G. nuchalis (Chestnut-naped Antpitta), G. albigula (White-throated Antpitta), G. erythroleuca (Red-and-white Antpitta), G. hypoleuca (White-bellied Antpitta), G. flavotincta (Yellow-breasted Antpitta), G. przewalskii (Rusty-tinged Antpitta), G. capitalis (Bay Antpitta), G. griseonucha (Gray-naped Antpitta), G. rufula (Rufous Antpitta), G. quitensis (Tawny Antpitta), and G. erythrotis (Rufous-faced Antpitta). Chapman (1912, 1917) considered milleri to be sister to G. erythrotis.

Recommended Citation

Greeney, Harold F. 2013. Brown-banded Antpitta (Grallaria milleri), Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; retrieved from Neotropical Birds Online: