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Grallaria watkinsi

Watkins's Antpitta

  • Order: Passeriformes
  • Family: Grallariidae
  • Monotypic

Authors: Schulenberg, Thomas S., Harold F. Greeney, and Ryan S. Terrill



Antpittas (Grallaria) have a distinctive morphology: they are plump-bodied, with short tails and notably long tarsi. Watkins's Antpitta is a medium sized antpitta, with mostly olive brown upperparts, except for the reddish brown crown. The underparts are white, with broad, pale dusky gray to dusky olive streaks on the breast and flanks. 

Similar Species

Watkins's Antpitta is most similar to Chestnut-crowned Antpitta (Grallaria ruficapilla). The ranges of these two species closely approach one another, especially in soutwestern Ecuador (Ridgely and Greenfield 2001a), but Watkins's and Chestnut-crowned antpittas rarely are sympatric. Watkins's Antpitta is distinguished most readily from Chestnut-crowned Antpitta by its different Vocalizations. Watkins's also differs from Chestnut-crowned by it smaller size, pinkish (not blue gray) tarsi, similar but paler plumage, the more extensive white patches on the sides of the face, and the presence of narrow streaks on the upperparts (Chapman 1919, Ridgely and Greenfield 2001b, Schulenberg et al. 2007).


The song of Watkins's Antpitta is described as "a series of 4-7 well-enunciated and emphatic whistled notes, the first set all similar but the last longer and sharply upslurred, e.g., keeu, keew-kew-kew k-wheeeei?" (Ridgely and Greenfield 2001b) and as "an accelerating series of descending hollow notes ending with a longer rising note: CLEW clew-clew'clew'clew cu-HOOEE?" (Lane, in Schulenberg et al. 2007). This song has a length of 2.1-3.4 s. The initial 4-9 notes are at 1.6-1.8 kHz and are given at a steady pace of 2.3-2.8 s; this series if followed immediately by a sharp whistle, rising from 1.4 to 2.6 kHz (Krabbe and Schulenberg 2003). The song is given from the ground or from a low branch, at intervals of 4-15 s, and primarily is heard in early dawn and at dusk Parker et al. 1995, Krabbe and Schulenberg 2003).

Calls of Watkins's Antpitta are similar to the song but consist of "fewer initial notes plus the last slurred one, or just the slurred one alone" (Ridgely and Greenfield 2001b), such as "a doubled hollow whistle, rising at end: clew-clewEE?" (Lane, in Schulenberg et al. 2007).

Nonvocal Sounds

None reported.

Detailed Description (appearance)

The following description is based on examination of specimens in the Louisiana State University Museum of Natural Science; see also Chapman (1919) and Krabbe and Schulenberg (2003).

Adult: Sexes similar. Crown and nape pale rufous, with narrow whitish shaft streaks; forecrown also spotted with black. Lores and eye ring white. Upper portion of the auriculars pale olive; lower portion of the auriculars white, narrowly streaked with olive. Back and tail pale olive, the center of the back with a few whitish shaft streaks. Remiges pale olive brown or pale tawny brown, wing coverts pale olive. Throat white, with a narrow dusky olive lateral throat stripe. Sides of the breast olive, streaked white. Center of the breast white or whitish buff, streaked with dusky; a few feathers in the center of breast also may have ochraceous edges. Remaining underparts white, streaked with dusky olive, center of the belly, vent, and undertail coverts white.

Bare Parts

Iris: dark brown

Bill: maxilla blackish; mandible pale pinkish gray

Tarsi and toes: pinkish to pale horn

Bare parts color data from Krabbe and Schulenberg (2003)


Total length: 18 cm (Ridgely and Greenfield 2001b, Krabbe and Schulenberg 2003)

Linear measurements: from Chapman (1919)

male (n = 5):

wing length, rangev93.5-96 mm

tail length, range 49-53 mm

tarsus length, range 50-55 mm

culmen length, range 24-25 mm

female (n = 1)

wing length, 92 mm

tail length, 52 mm

tarsus length, 51 mm

culmen length, 24 mm

Mass: male, mean 69.7 g (range 60-84 g, n = 10; Krabbe and Schulenberg 2003)

           female, mean 60 g range 58-62 g, n = 2; Krabbe and Schulenberg 2003)



Geographic Variation



Watkins's Antpitta was described by Chapman (1919) as Grallaria watkinsi, with a type locality of Milagros, Piura, Peru. Milagros now is in Loja, Ecuador (Stephens and Traylor 1983, Paynter 1993). The type specimen is in the American Museum of Natural History (Chapman 1919).

Later authors classified watkinsi as a subspecies of the more widespread, polytypic Grallaria ruficapilla Chestnut-crowned Antpitta (e.g. Peters 1951, Meyer de Schauensee 1966). Subsequently the distinctive song of watkinsi (very different from the song of ruficapilla), led watkinsi to be elevated to species rank (Parker et al. 1995). Furthermore, although the distributions of watkinsi and ruficapilla closely approach one another in Ecuador, there is no evidence of introgression (Ridgely and Greenfield 2001a).

Grallaria watkinsi was named in honor of Harry Watkins, a long time collector in Peru who obtained the first specimens of this species (Chapman 1919).

Recommended Citation

Schulenberg, Thomas S., Harold F. Greeney, and Ryan S. Terrill. 2013. Watkins's Antpitta (Grallaria watkinsi), Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; retrieved from Neotropical Birds Online: