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Grallaricula peruviana

Peruvian Antpitta

  • Order: Passeriformes
  • Family: Grallariidae
  • Monotypic

Authors: Greeney, Harold F.



Peruvian Antpitta is a strikingly patterned, small antbird which, like others in the genus, frequently twitches its hindquarters in a slow, rhythmic fashion when perching otherwise motionless in the understory.  It has a rich rufous crown with a distinct malar stripe and pale, pre-loral markings.  Generally uniformly brown on the back, its breast is bright white with strong black scalloping. 

Similar Species

Peruvian Antpitta is similar in appearance to the allopatric Ochre-fronted Antpitta (G. ocraceifrons) of northern Peru, and to the parapatric Crescent-faced Antpitta (G. lineifrons), which occurs at significantly higher elevations. It is unlikely to be confused with any other species within its known geographic and altitudinal range.


Greeney et al. (2004b) reported that adults in the vicinity of a nest uttered a soft, muted seeep call. This call is also heard occasionally by adults away from nests, and is similar to the call notes made by Ochre-breasted Antpittas (G. flavirostris) around nests (unpubl.), but perhaps slightly sharper. After falling prematurely from the nest, a nestling on the ground gave repeated, loud scratchy distress calls (Greeney et al. 2004b). On this same occasion, while observers were near the nestling, the male approached while giving a repeated, piercing seeeeup! alarm note. The call was startlingly loud when compared to the call notes of this species, and was reminiscent, in tone, to calls given by many soaring raptors.  The song of this species remains undescribed.

Nonvocal Sounds

None reported.

Detailed Description (appearance)

Male. The crown is rich orange-rufous, with this color extending just onto upper nape, and in some lights appearing to be separated from the brown cheeks by a narrow, buffy stripe. The front and back of the eyes are rimmed with broad, incomplete whitish eye-rings. Cheeks are brown, similar to mantle, and faint rufous-cream highlights on the pre-loral area extend from either side of the base of the bill to the forecrown, giving and indistinct tufted effect. A white malar stripe extends to upper chest with blackish-brown submalar stripes starting at base of the bill. These submalar markings gradually broaden, terminating on the sides of the throat well above upper chest. The central throat is white, broadly bordered by the submalar stripes. The breast and belly are white, bearing upward-curving crescents on upper chest and upwards to below the ear-coverts. This scalloping cleanly divides the throat and malar marks from chest scalloping. Most of the breast, down to the mid/lower belly is blackish, narrowly scalloped white, with the only exception being the central breast where there is a roughly 1.5 cm diameter patch which is whiter with narrow black scalloping. This white-on-black scalloping becomes finer on the belly and abruptly gives way to cleaner white with very little black underneath. The entire back and wings are an even, rich brown with no fringes to the wing coverts or remiges.Male Peruvian Antpitta incubating at a nest in northeastern Ecuador.

Adult Male Peruvian Antpitta in the wild, September 2002, Yanayacu Biological Station, Ecuador, © H.F. Greeney

Female. The crown is rufous-brown, this color extending onto the hindcrown. Eye-ring crescents are distinctly buffy, with the cheeks and nape brown and similar to mantle coloration. Pre-loral ‘tufts’ are as extensive as in the male, but buffy, similar in coloration to the eye-ring crescents. The throat’s clean white malar stripe connects with a broad white crescent on the upper chest. A slightly broader, blackish submalar stripe terminates at a white upper chest crescent. The breast and upper belly bear broad, white, upward-curving crescents which cover the upper chest and extend to below ear-coverts. A blackish band crosses th upper breast, and is thickly scalloped white. More diffuse scalloping continues well down onto the flanks and sides of breast and belly, quickly giving way to a clean white belly. The mid-breast is also white. The entire back and wings are even, medium brown with no fringes to coverts or remiges.

Adult female Peruvian Antpitta, Date Unknown, Ecuador, © Ana Agreda

Bare Parts

While the bill of this species has been described as pure blackish in other works (Ridgely and Greenfield 2001, Ridgely and Tudor 1994), the bills of both sexes are blackish or grayish at their bases, becoming dull yellowish green towards the tips (Greeney et al. 2004b). In both sexes, the eyes are dark chestnut and the legs pale, fleshy gray.


Little information available. From Parker et al. (1985):

mass, males (n=2): 17 g, 17.5 g; females (n=3), 19.5-21 g (x= 20 g).


No information.

Geographic Variation

None documented.


The type specimen was described by Chapman (1923) from Chaupe, Peru (1850 m). While there are few specimens from which to judge, there appears to be little or no variation, and this species is considered monotypic. It is considered most closely related to Ochre-fronted Antpitta (G. ochraceifrons), with which it forms a superspecies.

Recommended Citation

Greeney, Harold F.. 2009. Peruvian Antpitta (Grallaricula peruviana), Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; retrieved from Neotropical Birds Online: