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Melanopareia maranonica

Marañon Crescentchest

  • Order: Passeriformes
  • Family: Melanopareiidae
  • Monotypic

Authors: Schulenberg, Thomas S., and Tom Johnson



Crescentchests (Melanopareia) are small, slender terrestrial songbirds. All species of crescentchest have long tails, relatively long legs, and are boldly patterned. Male Marañon Crescentchest has a black crown, a buffy supercilium, a broad black line across the side of the head, and a buffy throat. The upperparts are mostly olive; the wing coverts are black, narrowly edged with white. The upper breast is black, and the lower breast and belly are chestnut. The female has a similar pattern, but is paler, with a sooty crown and a tawny breast and belly.

Similar Species

Marañon Crescentchest is distinctive within its very limited range. It is very similar to Elegant Crescentchest (Melanopareia elegans) of the Pacific slope of southwestern Ecuador and northwestern Peru, but these two species are allopatric. The underparts of Elegant Crescentchest are paler. Also, the wing coverts and inner remiges of both sexes of Elegant Crescentchest are broadly edged with chestnut, and the wings show little white edging; the wings of Marañon Crescentchest lack chestnut, but the wing coverts are extensively edged with white.


The song of Marañon Crescentchest is "a slightly accelerating, moderate-paced, series of rich notes: tu tu-tu-tu'tu'tu'tu'tu'tu'tu'tu" (Lane, in Schulenberg et al. 2010), at 2.3-2.8 kHz and given at a rate of 3-4 notes per s (Krabbe and Schulenberg 2003).

Calls include "a yelping, often squeaky yip or yek, sometimes delivered with more modulation: djer, often in short series. Also a metallic tik!" (Lane, in Schulenberg et al. 2010). Also has a scolding call, "a dry penetrating churr" (Krabbe and Schulenberg 2003).

Additional audio recordings of vocalizations of Marañon Crescentchest can be heard at Macaulay Library and at xeno-canto.

Nonvocal Sounds

None reported.

Detailed Description (appearance)

The following description is based on Chapman (1924) and Krabbe and Schulenberg (2003):

Adult male: Crown and nape black. Sharply defined supercilium, extending from the base of bill to the nape, creamy buff. Back and rump grayish olive. Rectrices black or grayish olive, blackish along the shaft; outermost rectrices grayish olive, edged with buff or whitish. Wing coverts black, edged with silvery white; remiges dusky, innermost secondaries edged buff. Lores and side of face black. Chin and center of throat white or pale buff, darker buff along sides and lower edge of throat. Broad, glossy black band across the upper breast, just below the throat. Lower breast chestnut; remainder of underparts tawny.

Adult female: Pattern similar to the male, but the black breast band is narrower, and there is no chestnut on the breast is paler; instead the underparts are uniformly ochraceous tawny. 

Bare Parts

Iris: brown

Bill: maxilla black; mandible leaden blue with black tip

Tarsus and toes: dusky flesh

Bare parts color data from Krabbe and Schulenberg (2003).


Total length: 16 cm (Ridgely and Greenfield 2001b, Krabbe and Schulenberg 2003)

Linear measurements (from Chapman 1924):

Male (n = 4): wing length, 57-60 mm; tail length, 67-73 mm; culmen, 17-18.3 mm; tarsus, 26-28 mm

Female (n = 2): wing length, 59-62 mm; tail length, 68 mm; culmen, 17.3 mm; tarsus, 25-26 mm

Mass: 23 g (n = 1, female; Krabbe and Schulenberg 2003)


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Geographic Variation



Described as Melanopareia maranonicus by Chapman (1924); type locality Perico [Cajamarca], Peru.

Meyer de Schauensee (1966) suggested that maranonica "possibly" should be considered a subspecies of Melanopareia elegans (Elegant Crescentchest), but most authorities recognize it as a distinct species. As noted by Krabbe and Schulenberg (2003), maranonica is geographically isolated, differs in plumage from elegans, and is proportionally longer tailed.

Melanopareia traditionally has been classified in the Formicariidae (= Thamnophilidae, e.g., Cory and Hellmayr 1924) or in Rhinocryptidae (Peters 1951, Meyer de Schauensee 1966). Phylogenetic analysis of DNA sequence data, from both mitochondrial and nuclear genes, shows instead that Melanopareia forms a separate clade, and so now is recognized as a separate family (Irestedt et al. 2002, Chesser 2004). The relationships of Melanopareiidae are not completely resolved, but this family is at the base of a clade that also includes Conopophagidae, Grallariidae, and Rhinocryptidae (Moyle et al. 2009).

Recommended Citation

Schulenberg, Thomas S., and Tom Johnson. 2012. Marañon Crescentchest (Melanopareia maranonica), Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; retrieved from Neotropical Birds Online: