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Grallaria andicolus

Stripe-headed Antpitta

  • Order: Passeriformes
  • Family: Grallariidae
  • Polytypic 2 Subspecies

Authors: Schulenberg, Thomas S., and Guy M. Kirwan



Grallaria have a distinctive morphology: they are plump-bodied, with short tails and notably long tarsi. The Stripe-headed Antpitta is a relatively small Grallaria. It is brown above, with narrow pale streaks on the crown; the back also is more or less streaked in most populations, although in the southern subspecies that back is plain brown. The Stripe-headed Antpitta also has a bold pattern of streaks and spots on the face and underparts and face.

Similar Species

The Streak-headed Antpitta is a distinctive bird, and is difficult to confuse with any other species. Few other Grallaria occur in the relatively open, high elevations woods inhabited by this species; typically occurs at higher elevations than Tawny Antpitta (Grallaria quitensis), which is larger, buffier, and lacks the bold streaks of Stripe-headed Antpitta. Compare to spotted juvenile plumages of thrushes, such as Great Thrush (Turdus fuscater) or Chiguanco Thrush (Turdus chiguanco).


The song of the Stripe-headed Antpitta is rarely heard (or often overlooked?), and is an odd, frog-like trill. It has been described as "a rolling series of wheezy notes, first slight descending, then ascending and accelerating, last note sometimes sometimes drawn-out ree ree ... ree eeee" (Fjeldså and Krabbe 1990) and as "a low, grinding, froglike trill that rises and falls, often with an introductory stutter: gr-grrrEEEEErrrr" (Lane, in Schulenberg et al. 2007).

Other vocalizations include "a single, somewhat wheezy, slightly descending note" (andicolus; Fjeldså and Krabbe 1990), "1-2, usually mellower notes alike, somewhat resembling call of Great Thrush [Turdus fuscater]" (punensis; Fjeldså and Krabbe 1990).

Nonvocal Sounds

None reported.

Detailed Description (appearance)

The following description refers to nominate andicolus; see also Geographic Variation:

Adult: Sexes similar. Crown blackish, rear crown brown or olive brown, both streaked with white or buff. Loral spot whitish buff or buff, large and extending to above eye. Prominent white eye ring. Back and rump grayish olive or olive brown. Nape and back usually streaked black and white or whitish buff; in some individuals these marking are reduced to buff shaft streaks. Tail olive brown or dull reddish brown. Remiges dusky, primaries edged dull rufous; wing coverts olive brown with small buff apical spots. Sides of the head, of the neck, and of the throat streaked whitish, buff and blackish. Center of throat whitish or buff, unstreaked. Sides of the breast olive brown, streaked white. Breast whitish, feathers edged black and buff, creating a heavily scaled appearance; the feather edgings on the flanks and belly are dusky and in some individuals are incomplete, creating a spotted (not scaled) appearance. Center of the belly less heavily marked.

Immature: Similar to adult, "but tips of wing-coverts and secondaries mottled, and tail feathers pointed and pale-tipped" (Krabbe and Schulenberg 2003).

Juvenile: "Spotted to barred throughout" (Krabbe and Schulenberg 2003).

Bare Parts

Iris: brown.

Bill: black.

Tarsus: blue-gray.


Total length: 16-16.5 cm (Ridgely and Tudor 1994, Krabbe and Schulenberg 2003, Ridgely and Tudor 2009), 16.5 cm (Fjeldså and Krabbe 1990)

Linear measurements (n=1, female): wing length, 96 mm; tail length, 42 mm; tarsus length, 49 mm; bill length, 20 mm (Chubb 1918)

Mass: males 48-60 g, females 51-66 g (Krabbe and Schulenberg 2003)


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Geographic Variation

Two subspecies recognized:

andicolus (Cabanis 1873); type locality Maraynioc, Junín, Peru

Occupies most of the distribution of the species. See Detailed Description.

punensis Chubb 1918; type locality Limbare [= Limbani; Stephens and Traylor 1983], Puno, Peru

Southeastern Peru (eastern Cuzco, Puno) and extreme northwestern Bolivia

Similar to nominate andicolus but on average has a blacker crown with orange-buff (not white) streaks, the lores and the sides of the face are buffier, and the back is unstreaked (but note that occasional individuals of andicolus, even from the sites as far north as Ancash, may have little or no streaking on the upperparts).


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

The song of subspecies punensis is not known; apparent differences in call between andicolus and punensis, however, raise the possibilty that each taxon may warrant species status (Krabbe and Schulenberg 2003).

Recommended Citation

Schulenberg, Thomas S., and Guy M. Kirwan. 2011. Stripe-headed Antpitta (Grallaria andicolus), Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; retrieved from Neotropical Birds Online: