Luckily the strikingly plumaged Chestnut-crowned Antpitta (Grallaria ruficapilla) is one of the most easily identifiable species, as well as being one of the most easily seen, of an extremely wary and notoriously shy family of birds, the antpittas.
Size wise, it sits in the middle of the antpitta family, averaging 18.5 cm (7.3 in) long. It has an orange-rufous head and nape, giving it a hooded appearance. The back is olive brown and the throat white. The belly is white overlaid with beautiful black-brown streaking, mainly on the sides and the flanks. The legs are blue-grey, an important feature separating it from Watkins’s Antpitta.
The Chestnut-crowned Antpitta occurs in Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela, and is subdivided into seven subspecies, depending on their head patterns. It has a broad altitudinal range, from 1,200 to 3,600 m (3,900 to 12,000 ft) above sea level, and is found in all manner of forest types, but especially favours moist montane forests, clearings, second growth, patches of bamboo, and other disturbed habitats.
Its diet includes mostly spiders, earthworms, caterpillars and ground-dwelling insects. It frequently forages on the ground for invertebrate prey, but also occasionally climbs to several metres above the ground in search of caterpillars and other foliage-dwelling invertebrates. It sometimes even follows large mammals (bears, tapirs) as a means of searching for prey that have been disturbed by the larger animal.
The Chestnut-crowned Antpitta’s song (a monotonously repeated, three-note, wheee, whooo-whooo) is easily imitated, and these bold, inquisitive birds will readily approach in response to human whistles. In some areas, this species has become habituated to being fed worms, and in exchange can be watched by birdwatchers.
For your chance to see this beautiful and approachable antpitta along with hundreds of other incredible species, join us on an unforgettable birding trip to Ecuador in July 2020. Enquire at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.