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Hylopezus auricularis

Masked Antpitta

  • Order: Passeriformes
  • Family: Grallariidae
  • Monotypic

Authors: Greeney, Harold F



Masked Antpitta is a typical member of the genus Hylopezus, and is easily recognized as such by its posture, shape, and similar behaviors. The crown and nape are gray, the lores are white, and the auriculars and ocular ring are red brown, bordered below by black. Apart from the crown, the upperparts and tail are olive brown. The wings are brown with the primaries edged with tawny ochraceous. The throat is white and edged with a black or dusky black lateral throat stripe. The white breast is washed with buff across the top, boldly streaked with black and olive brown. The belly is clear white, the flanks and crissum buff (Krabbe and Schulenberg 2003).

Similar Species

The blackish "mask" and more streaked breast pattern of Masked Antpitta separate it from Spotted Antpitta (H. macularius), with which it was formerly considered conspecific. There is, however, no range overlap between the two. Within its range Masked Antpitta is unlikely to be confused with any other species, as it is not known to occur with any other species of Hylopezus. The range of Amazonian Antpitta (Hylopezus berlepschi) may approach that of Masked, but Amazonian lacks the blackish "mask", has an olive brown (not gray) crown, and the breast is buffier.


The song of Masked Antpitta is a slow, trilling, slightly descending series of hollow and high-pitched cu notes. The song lasts 3-4 seconds and consists of around 40 short notes delivered at a steady pace and descending evenly from 1.5 kHz to 1.2 kHz.

A call, often delivered at dusk or when the bird is alarmed, is a quick succession of 2-3 melodious notes fuí notes, followed by short, lower-pitched cuu. The call notes are delivered at a frequency of ca 2-1.5 kHz (Maijer 1998, Stattersfield and Capper 2000, Krabbe and Schulenberg 2003). Another call, apparently uttered only at dusk, consists of a single note (Maijer 1998). Maijer (1998) observed that both of these calls were "the last sounds of the day ... heard from the diurnal birds in the area".

Audio recordings of vocalizations of Masked Antpitta can be heard at Macaulay Library and at xeno-canto.

Nonvocal Sounds

None reported.

Detailed Description (appearance)

The following description is based on Gyldenstolpe (1945):

Adult: The sexes of Masked Antpitta are similar. Base of forecrown, ocular area, superciliaries, and auriculars brown. Feathers of the auricular area have pale shafts giving thinly streaked appearance. Lores white. Crown and nape gray, becoming more olive posteriorly. Central crown feathers with dark centers. Dorsal plumage pale brownish olive, contrasting with the gray nape. Uppertail coverts paler than rest of dorsum and with feathers tipped with pale buff. Wing coverts orangish buff, with primary coverts dark brown basally and broadly tipped buffy brown. Longest feather of alula ochraceous at the base of the outer web, becoming paler and buffy white on the posterior portion of the same web, with the inner web being blackish brown. Anterior edge of wing brown, with primaries and secondaries darker brown and edged with ochraceous olive, most brightly on the inner primaries and on the secondaries. Tertials brownish olive, all but the innermost with cinnamon edges. Underwing coverts tawny ochraceous orange. There is a broad black lateral throat stripe, bordered above by whitish. Center of chin and throat white above creamy white breast feathers strongly marked with black giving a heavy, streaked appearance. Heavy streaking extends down the flanks but feathers more yellow buff and streaking mixed black with olive brown on each feather contrasts with pale feather shafts. Undertail coverts warm buff, becoming more ochraceous buff on thighs. Central belly pure white. Rectrices rufescent brown.

Bare Parts

Iris: dark brown

Bill: maxilla black; mandible ivory or pinkish white

Tarsi and toes: pinkish white


Total length: 14 cm (Stattersfield and Capper 2000, Krabbe and Schulenberg 2003, Ridgely and Tudor 2009)

Linear measurements (from Gyldenstolpe 1941):

wing length, 88 mm; tail length, 38 mm; culmen length, 21 mm; tarsus length, 37 mm (n =1, male, holotype)


male, 43 g (n = 1; Dunning 2008)

female, 38 g (n = 1; Dunning 2008)



Geographic Variation

Hylopezus auricularis is monotypic.


Described as Grallaria auricularis Gyldenstolpe 1941; type locality Victoria, at confluence the Madre de Dios and Beni rivers, Madre de Dios, Bolivia.

Hylopezus auricularis long was considered a subspecies of Spotted Antpitta (H. macularius), since shortly after its description (Gyldenstolpe 1945, Peters 1951, Phelps and Phelps 1950, Meyer de Schauensee 1970). Maijer (1998) provided evidence, based largely on its distinctive vocalizations, that auricularis deserved to be elevated again to species status. Recent molecular studies suggest that Masked Antpitta is more closely related to Speckle-breasted Antpitta (H. nattereri) than to the macularius group (Carneiro and Aleixo 2012, Carneiro et al. 2012).

Recommended Citation

Greeney, Harold F. 2014. Masked Antpitta (Hylopezus auricularis), Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; retrieved from Neotropical Birds Online: