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Lipaugus unirufus

Rufous Piha

  • Order: Passeriformes
  • Family: Tityridae
  • Polytypic 2 Subspecies

Authors: Haynes, Jamie-Ann E

Lipaugus unirufus

La Joya de Santa María, Oaxaca, Mexico; © Nick Athanas

The only truly 'trans-Andean' member of the genus, the nesting habits of the well-named and somewhat thrush-like Rufous Piha (Lipaugus unirufus) are relatively well known through Dr. Alexander Skutch’s studies in Costa Rica. Rufous Piha occupies a wide range over Middle America and northwestern South America, and is primarily found in the lower and mid levels of humid upper tropical and lower subtropical forests, below 1200 m. It is mainly found in the subcanopy and canopy, but the species also visits clearings with scattered trees, and is even found at the edge of mangroves in parts of its range. It lives in the trees and rarely goes down to the ground. It eats most of its food while hovering. When it obtains food from the forest floor, it will sally down and consume its meal up above. Rufous Piha typically enjoys insects and spiders, but it also eats seeds, plants, berries, some animals and fruit. The vocalization of the Rufous Piha can be heard and recognized more clearly than the observation of this well camouflaged bird.

Recommended Citation

Haynes, Jamie-Ann E. 2012. Rufous Piha (Lipaugus unirufus), Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; retrieved from Neotropical Birds Online:

This map is based on maps available from the NatureServe InfoNatura website, for the distribution in Central America and/or Caribbean, and on a map provided by Robert S. Ridgely, for the South American distribution.

The data for the InforNatura maps are provided by NatureServe in collaboration with Robert Ridgely, James Zook, The Nature Conservancy - Migratory Bird Program, Conservation International - CABS, World Wildlife Fund - US, and Environment Canada - WILDSPACE.

  • Migration/Movement:Resident (nonmigratory)
  • Primary Habitat:Tropical lowland evergreen forest
  • Foraging Strata:Midstory/Canopy
  • Foraging Behavior:Sally
  • Diet:Omnivorous
  • Sociality:Solitary
  • Mating System:Polygyny
  • Nest Form:Saucer
  • Clutch: 1 - 1
  • IUCN Status:Least Concern