The two species of Mackenziaena antshrike are endemic to the Atlantic Forest region, although some authors have suggested that the two species are not very closely related, and that the present form is more closely allied to the Frederickena antshrikes. The Tufted Antshrike is found from southeast Brazil to eastern Paraguay and northeast Argentina, and the male is largely blackish with a reasonably prominent crest, while the female is distinctly more elegantly attired. It has a rufous crest with otherwise blackish plumage that is heavily barred pale rufous and cinnamon, virtually throughout. Both sexes have red eyes, but it is typically only males that approach and respond to playback, and even then they frequently persist in calling back from near-impenetrable cover. In the north of the range, in areas of overlap with the Large-tailed Antshrike (Mackenziaena leachii), the Tufted Antshrike is principally found at lower elevations, although even here there is altitudinal sympatry.