Plushcaps are generally inconspicuous, quiet birds that forage actively in dense cover (Hilty 2003, Ridgely and Tudor 2009). Their foraging behavior of probing the internodes of bamboo (see Food) is distinctive. They forage in a variety of postures including upright, vertically, or hanging upside down (Hilty et al. 1979). They also seach vegetation for insect prey by "fluttering and flitting in a restless fashion" (Hilty et al. 1979). From observations at two sites in Bolivia, Remsen (1985) found that they foraged 84% of the time on stems and 16% of the time on green foliage (n=19). In terms of foraging maneuvers, most of the time (57%) the species used the "pull/rip" method. In addition, the Plushcap also used two additional foraging maneuvers: "pick" (32%) and "hang" (11%).
They forage in the understory (Parker et al. 1996), mainly from 1-4 m above ground, but can also forage from the ground up to 6 m (Hilty et al. 1979). For 19 observations in Bolivia, Remsen (1985) recorded an average foraging height of 2.0 m (± 1.3) above ground and 3.4 m (± 1.7) below the canopy. Average foliage density of these observations was 2.4 (on a scale of 0 to 5, with a value of 5 representing the densest vegetation).