Brown Tinamou Crypturellus obsoletus

  • Order: Tinamiformes
  • Family: Tinamidae
  • Polytypic: 9 subspecies
  • Authors: Vitor Gomes


Distinguishing Characteristics

Tinamous are stocky, terrestrial birds with very short tails and rounded wings. Brown Tinamou is a medium-sized, relatively unpatterned tinamou. The head and hindneck are entirely slate gray, the upperparts are dark chocolate brown, and the underparts are reddish brown or buffy brown, with black barring on the flanks.

Similar Species

The species that is most similar to Brown Tinamou is Little Tinamou (Crypturellus soui). Along the western edge of the Amazon Basin and in the Atlantic forest, Brown Tinamou primarily occurs at higher elevations than Little Tinamou, although the two species may overlap in central South America. Brown is larger than Little, with a gray (not white) throat, and more barring on the flanks.

Detailed Description

The following description is based on Blake (1977); see also Geographic Variation.

Adult: Sexes similar, but female often more rufescent than the male. Crown and nape dark gray. Sides of head ash gray. Upperparts brown, very faintly vermiculated with sooty black. Breast bright rufous brown, paler on the belly. Flanks and undertail coverts paler ochraceous buff, barred or scalloped with black.

Immature: Similar to adult, but upperparts, especially the wings, minutely spotted with black and buff; underparts barred with black.



Bare Parts

Iris: yellow orange, brownish orange, light orange, yellow brown, brown

Bill: maxilla black, mandible light gray

Tarsi and toes: olive gray, greenish, brown

Bare parts color data from Blake (1977), Belton (1984), and from specimens in the Louisiana State University Museum of Natural Science.


Total length: 25.5 cm (Ridgely and Greenfield 2001b), 25-30.5 cm (Hilty 2003), 27 cm (Fjeldså and Krabbe 1990), 28 cm (Hilty and Brown 1986)

Linear measurements (from Blake 1977):

cerviniventris, male (n = 8)

wing length (flat), mean 148.2 mm (range 141-153 mm)

bill length (exposed culmen), mean 21.5 mm (range 20-23 mm)

cerviniventris, female (n = 10)

wing length (flat), mean 159.3 mm (range 153-163 mm)

bill length (exposed culmen), mean 22.5 mm (range 21-24 mm)

ochraceiventris, male (n = 7)

wing length (flat), mean 155.7 mm (range 151-167 mm)

bill length (exposed culmen), mean 21.7 mm (range 20-24 mm)

ochraceiventris, female (n = 3)

wing length (flat), mean 158.3 mm (range 154-164 mm)

bill length (exposed culmen), mean 22.6 mm (range 22-23 mm)

griseiventris, male (n = 6)

wing length (flat), mean 158.3 mm (range 152-164 mm)

bill length (exposed culmen), mean 23.8 mm (range 23-25 mm)

griseiventris, female (n = 8)

wing length (flat), mean 163.8 mm (range 158-167 mm)

bill length (exposed culmen), mean 25.1 mm (range 23-27 mm)

obsoletus, male (n = 8)

wing length (flat), mean 164.8 mm (range 161-177 mm)

bill length (exposed culmen), mean 22.2 mm (range 20-24 mm)

obsoletus, female (n = 9)

wing length (flat), mean 165.6 mm (range 153-174 mm)

bill length (exposed culmen), mean 22.7 mm (range 20-25 mm)

Mass: female, 490 g, 600 g (n = 2, obsoletus; Belton 1984)

Recommended Citation

Gomes, V. (2014). Brown Tinamou (Crypturellus obsoletus), version 1.0. In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA.