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Leptopogon rufipectus

Rufous-breasted Flycatcher

  • Order: Passeriformes
  • Family: Tyrannidae
  • Monotypic

Authors: Schulenberg, Thomas S., and Tom Johnson



Leptopogon are small flycatchers with a relatively long, slender, black bill, wing bars, and a gray face grizzled with white; most species also have a conspicuous dark mark
on the auriculars. Rufous-breasted Flycatcher is olive above with a gray crown, rusty wing bars, a rufous face with dark auricular frame, rufous throat and breast, and a yellow belly.

Similar Species

Rufous-breasted Flycatcher usually is readily identifiable by the bright, tawny-rufous breast and mottled face. There is widespread geographic overlap between Rufous-breasted Flycatcher and Handsome Flycatcher (Nephelomyias pulcher), but Handsome Flycatcher is much smaller, with buffier (less rufous) breast, a shorter bill with a pale mandible, and more conspicuous wing bars.


The most frequently heard call of Rufous-breasted Flycatcher is variously described as "an explosive kweek", frequently given (Fjeldså and Krabbe 1990), as "a loud and emphatic skwee! (like squeezing a baby's bath toy), sometimes run together into a very fast series of shrill sputtered notes" (Ridgely and Greenfield 2001b), and as "a high squeaky skweew, usually given in a loose series" (Lane, in Schulenberg et al. 2010). Also gives "sharp pik notes" (Lane, in Schulenberg et al. 2010).

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

Nonvocal Sounds

None reported.

Detailed Description (appearance)

The following description is based on Fjeldså and Krabbe (1990) and Fitzpatrick (2004):

Adult: Crown gray, upperparts otherwise olive green. Wings with two poorly defined ochraceous wing bars (along the lower edge of the outer tips of the wing coverts). Edges of primaries ochraceous, and of secondaries olive yellow. Lores, eyering, auriculars and sides of the head rufous; lores and auriculars grizzled with gray, and auriculars with dusky posterior border. Throat and breast rufous. Belly pale olive yellow.

Juvenile: Undescribed.

Bare Parts

Iris: brown

Bill: black or dark brown

Tarsi and toes: gray or bluish gray

Bare parts color data from Parker et al. (1985).


Total length: 13 cm (Fjeldså and Krabbe 1990, Ridgely and Greenfield 2001b, Fitzpatrick 2004), 13.2 cm (Hilty 2003)

Mass: male, mean 14.3 g (range 11.5-18 g, n = 4, Peru; Parker et al. 1985); female, 10 g, 12.8 g (n = 2, Peru; Parker et al. 1985)


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Geographic Variation

Monotypic. The population in Venezuela was described as venezuelanus by Phelps and Phelps (1957), with reported characters of crown blacker and back purer green; but these populations are indistinguishable from populations farther south in Colombia (Fitzpatrick 2004).


Described as Tyrannula rufipectus by Lafresnaye in 1846, with a type locality of "Colombia".

The phylogenetic relationships within Leptopogon were investigated by Bates and Zink (1994), who found that rufipectus was sister to Leptopogon taczanowskii (Inca Flycatcher) of Peru. These two species are considered by some authors to represent a superspecies (Parker et al. 1985, Fitzpatrick 2004).

Phylogenetic analysis of DNA sequence data, from both mitochondrial and nuclear genes, indicates that Leptopogon is sister to the genus Mionectes (Ohlson et al. 2008, Tello et al. 2009).

Recommended Citation

Schulenberg, Thomas S., and Tom Johnson. 2012. Rufous-breasted Flycatcher (Leptopogon rufipectus), Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; retrieved from Neotropical Birds Online: