Plain-backed Antpitta occurs, somewhat discontinuously, from northeastern Venezuela south to extreme northern Peru, and in the experience of many field observers is one of the hardest of the Grallariidae to actually catch a glimpse of. It inhabits the understory of wet montane forest at 700–1950 m, with a seeming predilection for steep slopes and creeks. Everywhere the species appears to be uncommon and local, and this antpitta’s chiefly terrestrial modus operandi undoubtedly makes it even harder to locate. The Plain-backed Antpitta sounds most similar to the Thrush-like Antpitta (Myrmothera campanisona), but the song contains more notes than the latter. Four subspecies of Plain-backed Antpitta are recognized, but in plumage, at least, they differ only marginally.