Almost endemic to Colombia, but for a narrow extension of its distribution into easternmost Panama, the Sooty-headed Wren is sometimes considered to be conspecific with the allopatric Black-throated Wren (Pheugopedius atrogularis), which is confined to Central America. The Sooty-headed Wren can scarcely be confused with any other species in range, it having a black head and throat, and unmarked chestnut breast and flanks. The upperparts are entirely rufous, although the tail is barred darker. This is a generally secretive species, usually found in pairs, and typically observed low above the ground. It sometimes follows army ant swarms in search of insects fleeing the ants.