Rufous-naped Greenlet Pachysylvia semibrunnea

  • Order: Passeriformes
  • Family: Vireonidae
  • Monotypic
  • Authors: David L. Slager


Distinguishing Characteristics

The Rufous-naped Greenlet has a distinctive plumage, with a rich rufous crown and nape contrasting with greenish upperparts and a grayish-white face and underparts. It is most easily detected, however, by its distinctive song. Spanish common names include Verdillo Nuquirrufo (Ridgely and Greenfield 2001a) and Verderón Gorro Castaño (Hilty 2003).  A former scientific name was Pachysylvia semibrunnea (Todd 1929).

Similar Species

The subtropically distributed Rufous-naped Greenlet occurs at higher elevations than other potentially overlapping greenlets (Ridgely and Tudor 1989). Because of this and its distinctive plumage, it is unlikely to be confused. The locally sympatric Tawny-crowned Greenlet (Hylophilus ochraceiceps) has a pale eye and rather dark underparts, lacks rufous in the nape, sings a simpler song, inhabits understory, etc. Golden-fronted Greenlet (Hylophilus aurantiifrons) lacks rufous tones in the crown, nape, and breast. Rufous-crowned Greenlet (Hylophilus poicilotis) and Buff-cheeked Greenlet (Hylophilus muscicapinus) of eastern South America are allopatric. The sympatric Brown-capped Vireo (Vireo leucophrys) has a dull brown cap, prominent pale supercilium, and a very different song.

Detailed Description

Adult: Sexes alike. Crown, nape, and auriculars rich rufous. Loral, moustachial, and ocular regions grizzled grayish white. Throat whitish, separated from the yellowish white breast by a rufous-tinged pectoral band. Belly, flanks, vent, and undertail coverts pale yellowish. Mantle and scapulars olive-green. Wing coverts dusky green with paler edging. Underwing coverts pale yellow. Remiges and rectrices dusky green, edged olive green.

Juvenile: Undescribed.


Very little information. A female "not yet nesting since a preceding molt" was collected on 31 March 1958 near Cali, Valle del Cauca, Colombia (Miller 1963).

Bare Parts

Adult: Bill flesh pink, slightly darker on culmen. Iris dark. Tarsi and toes leaden blue.

Juvenile: Undescribed.


Table 1. Mass of Rufous-naped Greenlet
MassSex (sample size)LocalityReference
11.4 gNANA(Hilty 2003)
12.6 gmale (n=1)Cali, Valle del Cauca, Colombia(Miller 1963)
10.2 gfemale (n=1)Cali, Valle del Cauca, Colombia(Miller 1963)
10.2-12.6 gNANA(Brewer 2010)
Table 2. Length of Rufous-naped Greenlet
LengthSample SizeLocalityReference
12 cmNANA(Hilty 2003)
12.5 cmNANA(Ridgely and Tudor 1989)
12.5-13 cmNANA(Brewer 2010)
Table 3. Other Measurements of Rufous-naped Greenlet
MeasurementValue (male)
Value (female)Sample SizeLocalityReference
 wing 62.5 mm61.7 mm NANA(Todd 1929)
 tail 50.5 mm50 mm NANA(Todd 1929)
 bill 13.5 mm13.3 mm NANA(Todd 1929)
 tarsus 16.7 mm16.7 mm NANA(Todd 1929)
testis5 mmNA1 (singing male)

23 Apr 1958 above Cali, Valle del Cauca, Colombia

(Miller 1963)

Recommended Citation

Slager, D. L. (2011). Rufous-naped Greenlet (Pachysylvia semibrunnea), version 1.0. In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA.