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Grallaria erythrotis

Rufous-faced Antpitta

  • Order: Passeriformes
  • Family: Grallariidae
  • Monotypic

Authors: Greeney, Harold F



Rufous-faced Antpitta, like other species of Grallaria, has an erect posture, long tarsi, and a very short tail, which gives them the distinctive antpitta silhouette. They are among the more plain plumaged species of Grallaria, with both sexes having dark olivaceous gray to olivaceous brown upperparts and tail. The lores, face, and side of the neck are orange rufous. Below, the throat and belly are white, with the breast orange rufous with faint white streaking.

Similar Species

Within its small range, Rufous-faced Antpitta is unlikely to be confused except with White-throated Antpitta (Grallaria albigula), which occurs at lower elevations (Ridgely and Tudor 1994). The more strongly patterned White-throated Antpitta differs by having the entire head (including crown) bright rufous. Though it shares a bright white throat with Rufous-faced Antpitta, White-throated Antpitta further differs by its duller, grayer belly.


The song of Rufous-faced Antpitta resembles that of Tawny Antpitta (Grallaria quitensis) and consists of a series of three, easily imitated whistles that may be pure or have a double-note quality. The last two notes generally are higher in pitch than the first, and may be alike or have the final note slightly higher in pitch. The song duration is short (1.2-1.4 s), generally given at 5-10 second intervals. It ranges in frequency, across the entire song, from 0.2 to 0.3 kHz.

The short call of Rufous-faced Antpitta, usually given every 3-4 seconds, is a single whistled krie produced at 2.2 kHz and descending to 1.8 kHz (Remsen et al. 1982, Fjeldså and Krabbe 1990, Krabbe and Schulenberg 2003).


Additional audio recordings of vocalizations of Rufous-faced Antpitta can be heard at Macaulay Library and at xeno-canto.

Nonvocal Sounds

None described.

Detailed Description (appearance)

The plumage of Rufous-faced Antpitta is rather uncomplicated. With the exception of very faint white streaking on the orange ochraceous breast, the adult plumage is unstreaked. The crown, nape, back, wings, and tail are dull, dull ochraceous gray or ochraceous brown, with the face (including lores), auriculars, and sides of the neck a contrasting, bright orange ochraceous. This facial pattern connects with a distinct, somewhat narrow band across the upper breast, which contrasts strongly with the bright white throat. The lower breast and belly are bright white, becoming dull, pale ochraceous gray on the flanks and crissum.

Rufous-faced Antpitta first was described in Latin (Sclater and Salvin (876):
"Supra obscure olivacea, cinereo tincta: subtus valde dilutior et rufescente lavata, ventre medio paene albo: regione auriculari vivide rufa, fronte et superciliis hoc colore tinctis: rostro nigro, ad apicem albicante, pedibus clare corylinis."

Bare Parts

Iris: dark brown

Bill: black with paler, horn-colored tip

Tarsi and toes: gray or pinkish-gray

Bare parts color data from Remsen et al. (1982).


Total length: 15.2 (Sclater and Salvin 1876), 18.5 cm (Ridgely and Tudor 1994, Krabbe and Schulenberg 2003), 19 cm (Meyer de Schauensee 1970)

Linear measurements (from Sclater and Salvin 1876; n = 1?):

wing length, 89 mm

tail length, 51 mm

tarsus length, 51 mm

Mass: mean 61.2 g (range 56-66 g, n = 7: 5 males, 1 female, 1 sex undetermined; Remsen et al. 1982); 1 male 53 g, 1 female 61 g (Remsen 1985)


No specific information

Geographic Variation



Described as Grallaria erythrotis Sclater and Salvin 1876, with type locality "Tilotilo, prov. Yungas [La Paz], Bolivia".

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

Based on general plumage and morphological characteristics, Rufous-faced 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. milleri (Brown-banded Antpitta). Chapman (1912, 1917) considered erythrotis to be sister to milleri.

Recommended Citation

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