Rufous Piha Lipaugus unirufus

  • Order: Passeriformes
  • Family: Cotingidae
  • Polytypic: 2 subspecies
  • Authors: Jamie-Ann E. Haynes


Almost all information on the breeding biology of Rufous Piha comes from Costa Rica, based on observations by Skutch (1969).


The nest is a shallow bowl, constructed with twisted vines, twigs, petioles and decomposing stringy fibers. Minimal resources are used (Skutch 1969). The nest is small, with scarcely enough space for the egg, and is very loose and open, so the the contents of the nest are visible from below (Skutch 1969). The nest is placed in a small trees propped up by slender hoizontal branches at a height of about 5-10 m above the ground (Skutch 1969, Stiles and Skutch 1989).

The female is responsible for every phase, from nest construction to raising the young.   Nest construction takes about four-five days (Skutch 1969).

Eggs and Incubation

The dates of active nests in Costa Rica range from March-August (Skutch 1969, Stiles and Skutch 1989). The typical clutch size is one. The egg is smoky gray or grayish brown, heavily marked with dark brown; egg dimensions are ca 31 x 22 mm (Skutch 1969). The incubation period is 25-26 days, with the female spending about 75% of her time incubating the egg (Skutch 1969).


At hatch, the nidicuous young has gray downy feathers partially covering its skin.  It is still largely naked at 11 days. By 17 days it is well feathered (Skutch 1969). Hatchlings are provisioned with insects, spiders, small scorpions and fruit (Skutch 1969). The diet for the nestling initially is primarily insects, but by age ca 10 days, berries are incorporated into the diet. As it gets older, the is a greater ratio of fruits in the diet (Skutch 1969). The female broods the nestling for long periods of time, far longer than comparably sized birds. To keep the nest clean, the female initally eat the feces of the young. Eventually, the droppings will be cast over the side. The female may fly out, catch the droppings and carry them away (Skutch 1969).

The time to fledging is 28-29 days (Skutch 1969). After the young fledges, the female destroys the nest, breaking it into pieces (Skutch 1969).  A female can have up to two broods a year (del Hoyo, 2004).

Recommended Citation

Haynes, J. E. (2012). Rufous Piha (Lipaugus unirufus), version 1.0. In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA.