Distribution in the Americas
Bar-winged Wood-Wren is resident in the Andes along the east slope of the Andes in southern Ecuador and northern Peru. In Ecuador it is known only from a few sites in the Cordillera del Cóndor in Zamora-Chinchipe, at 1700-1950 m (Krabbe and Sornoza 1994, Schulenberg and Awbrey 1997, Ridgely and Greenfield 2001a). It also occurs at several sites in the Peruvian portion of the Cóndor (Fitzpatrick et al. 1977, Schulenberg and Awbrey 1997), as well as below Abra Patricia, San Martín (Fitzpatrick et al. 1977, Davis 1986); northeast of Jirillo on the trail to Balsapuerto, San Martín (Davis 1986); on ridges above the upper Río Pauya in the Cordillera Azul, Loreto (Schulenberg et al. 2001); and at Cumpang and Utcubamba, east of Tayabamba, La Libertad (Davis 1986). The elevational range of Bar-winged Wood-Wren in Peru is 1350-2600 m (Schulenberg et al. 2007).
Bar-winged Wood-Wren is restricted to the understory of elfin or stunted forest. These forests are patchily distributed on sites with nutrient-poor sandy soils, typically on outlying ridges. At the type locality, the habitat was characterized as having a "sparse canopy ... composed of stunted trees of uneven height (6-9, rarely 12 m) and diameter (mostly 8-12 cm, not exceeding 20 cm). The more xeric facies of the ridgetop vegetation is dominated by a tree species that forms nearly monotypic stands. Ericaceous plants feature the heavy understory, which also contains a number of typical elements of the Andean flora: Weinmania, Miconia, Ilex, Hedyosmum, Podocarpus, etc. Cyclanthaceae, Araceae, orchids and terrestrial Bromeliacea predominate in the lowest stratum, while the ground itself is carpeted with a thick layer of peat capped with mosses and pale billowy lichens. Tea-colored blackwater streams emerge from the lower slopes of the ridges to form extensive sphagnum bogs in the valleys" (Fitzpatrick et al. 1977).