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Grallaria hypoleuca

White-bellied Antpitta

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

Authors: Schulenberg, Thomas S., Edwin R. Price, and Guy M. Kirwan



Antpittas (Grallaria) have a distinctive morphology: they are plump-bodied, with short tails and notably long tarsi. The White-bellied Antpitta is a medium sized antpitta with a simple plumage pattern: basically it is reddish brown above and grayish white below, with a whiter throat.

Similar Species

No similar species of antpitta overlaps geographically with White-bellied Antpitta. Bicolored (Grallaria rufocinerea) and Chestnut-naped (Grallaria nuchalis) antpittas are darker gray below, not whitish gray, and also primarily occur at higher elevations. The most similar species is the Yellow-breasted Antpitta (Grallaria flavotincta), which has a similar plumage pattern but is pale yellow below, not whitish gray. Yellow-breasted Antpitta occurs only in the western Andes, and so does not overlap geographically with White-bellied Antpitta. Other similar, but allopatric, species are the Rusty-tinged Antpitta (Grallaria przewalskii) of northern Peru, which has a creamy throat and rufous on the sides of the breast; and the Red-and-white Antpitta (Grallaria erythroleuca) of southern Peru, which has a white belly and rufous flanks and sides to the breast.


The song of White-bellied Antpitta is described variously as "3 clear whistles, 1 st longest and a half tone lower than couplet that follows, puuuh; pü pü" (Hilty and Brown 1986); as "a fast too, téw-téw, given at rather long intervals (often 10 or more seconds)" (Ridgely and Greenfield 2001b); and as "a 3-note hollow whistle, with the first note lower, the second 2 usually monotone: hu HEW-HEW. Easily imitated." (Lane, in Schulenberg et al. 2007).


Descriptions of calls include "a soft whee-whee-whee-whee series on one pitch; this is probably a disturbance call" (Parker et al. 1985); "a strikingly pygmy-owl [Glaucidium]-like vocalization, too, too, too, too ..." (Ridgely and Greenfield 2001b); and "a series of rising whistled clew'ee? notes" (Lane, in Schulenberg et al. 2007).

Additional recordings of vocalizations of White-bellied Antpitta can be heard at Macaulay Libraray and at xeno-canto.

Nonvocal Sounds

None reported.

Detailed Description (appearance)

Adult: Sexes similar. Crown dull rufescent brown or dusky brown; forecrown more or less streaked with black. Upperparts reddish brown, slightly brighter and paler across the nape. Sides of the head and of the neck rufous. Lores white or gray (in some individuals almost black). Throat white. Breast and flanks gray, center of belly white. Sides of breast rufous brown. Flanks olive brown or tawny brown; undertail coverts tawny.

This description is based on specimens in the Louisiana State University Museum of Natural Science.

Bare Parts

Iris: brown

Bill: black or blackish gray

Tarsi and toes: blue-gray

Bare parts color data from Krabbe and Schulenberg (2003) and from specimens in the Louisiana State University Museum of Natural Science.


Total length: 16–17 cm (Schulenberg et al. 2007), 17 cm (Ridgely and Greenfield 2001b, Krabbe and Schulenberg 2003), 18 cm (Hilty and Brown 1986)

Linear measurements: The following data are for males, from Chapman (1923); the sample sizes are three for nominate hypoleuca and four for castanea

wing, hypoleuca:     92-93 mm

wing, castanea:       88-90 mm

tail, hypoleuca:        50-54 mm

tail, castanea:          47-50 mm

tarsus, hypoleuca:    45.5-51 mm

tarsus, castanea:       43-45 mm

culmen, hypoleuca: 23-25.5 mm

culmen, castanea:   22.5-23 mm

Mass: males, 62-69 g (n = 3; Krabbe and Schulenberg 2003)


Not described.

Geographic Variation

Two subspecies currently recognized:

hypoleuca Sclater 1855; type locality Santa Fé de Bogotá, Colombia.

Occurs on the west slope of the eastern Andes of Colombia.

castanea Chapman 1923; type locality Baeza, Ecuador; holotype in the American Museum of Natural History (Chapman 1923, LeCroy and Sloss 2000).

Similar to nominate hypoleuca, but "smaller and with the entire upperparts, including wings and tail, much deeper in color, the sides, and particularly flanks, more strongly washed with the color of the back" (Chapman 1923: 8).

Occurs on the east slope of the Andes of Ecuador and extreme northern Peru.


The White-bellied Antpitta (Grallaria hypoleuca) was described as a species by Sclater (1855) and was recognized as such by Chapman (1923) and Cory and Hellmayr (1924). Peters (1951) also recognized hypoleuca as a species, but included within it flavotincta (Yellow-breasted Antpitta), recognized as a separate species by earlier authors. Meyer de Schauensee (1966) followed that of Peters (1951), but Meyer de Schauensee further proposed that the species hypoleuca could be expanded to include Grallaria przewalskii (Rusty-tinged Antpitta), Grallaria capitalis (Bay Antpitta), and Grallaria erythroleuca (Red-and-white Antpitta). Parker and O'Neill (1980) noted that the song of capitalis differed from that of hypoleuca castanea and przewalskii, and proposed that all taxa in this complex (except for castanea) be maintained as species. This suggestion has been followed by all subsequent authors, who further include flavotincta, hypoleuca, przewalskii, capitalis, and erythroleuca in a superspecies (e.g. Ridgely and Tudor 1989, 2009, Krabbe and Schulenberg 2003).

Recommended Citation

Schulenberg, Thomas S., Edwin R. Price, and Guy M. Kirwan. 2013. White-bellied Antpitta (Grallaria hypoleuca), Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; retrieved from Neotropical Birds Online: