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Myiotheretes fuscorufus

Rufous-bellied Bush-Tyrant

  • Order: Passeriformes
  • Family: Tyrannidae
  • Monotypic

Authors: Schulenberg, Thomas S., and Tom Johnson



Myiotheretes bush-tyrants are large brown flycatchers with relatively long bills and short tarsi. All species have extensive rufous or cinnamon in the wing, although in most species this color is confined to the inner webs of the remiges, and so is not visible at rest; some species also have rufous on the tail. Rufous-bellied Bush-Tyrant is brown above with a grayish supercilium. The wings are dusky, but have two broad rufous wingbars, and, in addition to the typical rufous inner webs of the remiges, the outer webs of the inner remiges also have rufous edges; consequently, much more rufous is visible on the closed wing of Rufous-bellied Bush-Tyrant than in other species of bush-tyrant. The underparts are tawny buff, with a paler throat.

Similar Species

Rufous-bellied Bush-Tyrant is not likely to be confused with any species within its range. Locally it is sympatric with Smoky Bush-Tyrant (Myiotheretes fumigatus), but Smoky is overall dark brown. Streak-throated Bush-Tyrant (Myiotheretes striaticollis) is larger, has a whiter throat and is more heavily streaked on the breast, and usually occurs in more open habitats. Cliff Flycatcher (Hirundinea ferruginea) is much deeper rufous below, has extensive white "frosting" on the face, and lacks rufous wing bars.


The call of Rufous-bellied Bush-Tyrant is "a rising-falling series of rich pip notes" (Lane, in Schulenberg et al. 2010).

The song is "a vigorous pip-pip-pip pi-DOO"; the number of introductory pip notes is variable (from 2 to 4), and the terminal phrase may be repeated once (Schulenberg et al. 2010).

Additional audio recordings of vocalizations of Rufous-bellied Bush-Tyrant can be heard at Macaulay Library and at xeno-canto.

Nonvocal Sounds

Rufous-bellied Bush-Tyrant clicks the bill when agitated (Fjeldså and Krabbe 1990).

Detailed Description (appearance)

The following description is based on Meyer de Schauensee (1970) and on Fjeldså and Krabbe (1990):

Adult: Sexes similar. Upperparts brown. Indistinct grayish supercilium. Wings blackish with two broad rufous bars. Outer edges to secondaries buff; basal half of inner webs of remiges rufous. Rectrices blackish, outer web of outermost rectrices and edges of inner webs of rectrices pale cinnamon. Throat white or pale tawny buff, shading into tawny buff or rufous breast and belly. 

Juvenile: Undescribed.

Bare Parts

Iris: brown, dark brown

Bill: black

Tarsi and toes: black

Bare parts color data from Parker and O'Neill (1980) and Schulenberg et al. (1984).


Total length: 18 cm (Fjeldså and Krabbe (1990), 19 cm (Ridgely and Tudor 1994, 2009)

Mass: male, mean 31.5 g (n = 5, range 26-35.5 g; Parker and O'Neill 1980, Schulenberg et al. 1984); female, mean 33.3 g (n = 3, range 31-35 g; Schulenberg et al. 1984)


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Geographic Variation



Described as Ochthodiaeta fuscorufus by Sclater and Salvin in 1876, with a type locality of Tilotilo, Yungas, La Paz, Bolivia.

Together with Myiotheretes fumigatus (Smoky Bush-Tyrant) and Myiotheretes pernix (Santa Marta Bush-Tyrant), fuscorufus was maintained for many decades in the genus Ochthodiaeta. Smith and Vuilleumier (1971) merged Ochthodiaeta and Myiotheretes (and Cnemarchus) into Xolmis, based on considerations of external morphology, ecology, and behavior. Traylor (1977) recognized Myiotheretes as distinct from Xolmis, but included the three species of Ochthodiaeta in Myiotheretes, a classification followed by subsequent authors. Traylor's classification also is supported by phylogenetic analysis of morphological characters, primarily from the skull and the syrinx (Lanyon 1986).

Recommended Citation

Schulenberg, Thomas S., and Tom Johnson. 2012. Rufous-bellied Bush-Tyrant (Myiotheretes fuscorufus), Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; retrieved from Neotropical Birds Online: