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Brown-backed Chat-Tyrant - BirdForum Opus

Subspecies ferruginea
Photo © by Oregonian
Nevado De Ruiz, near Manizales, Caldas, Colombia, 30 August, 2006
Ochthoeca fumicolor


14·5–16 cm (5¾ in)

  • Upperside to crown is warm brown, with side of head about same color, but the supercilium is strong and pale.
  • Underside is buff to rufous, wings dark with two prominent rufous wing bars.
  • Tail is very dark but outer tail feathers are white.
  • Eye, bill and legs are dark

Female rather paler underparts.
Juvenile overall a warmer brown, lacks grey on chin.


Generally, birds are more bland and buff to the south with stronger rufous tones to the north and north-east.

Similar Species

Rufous-browed Chat-Tyrant differs significantly in being brighter rufous on undersides, supercilium being equally bright rufous and very broad, while it may have only one wing bar. It is also smaller with especially a shorter wing.


South America: found in the Andes of Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia.


Rufous-browed Chat-tyrant (Ochthoeca superciliosa) was formerly included in this species.


Photo © by Peter R. Bono
Manu Road, Quebrada at 3020m before reaching Ajcanacu Pass, Peru, July 2008

Four subspecies are recognized[1]:

  • O. f. fumicolor:
  • O. f. ferruginea:
  • Central and Western Andes of Colombia (Antioquia)
  • O. f. brunneifrons:
  • O. f. berlepschi:
  • Andes of south-eastern Peru (Cuzco and Puno) to western Bolivia


Paramo, as well as at edge of scrub, forest and woodland, mostly observed at 2200-4200 m asl.


Mostly found close to ground either perching on a (thick) branch, top of bush or other places from where they can sally out to catch their food.


Feeds mainly on insects and similar invertebrates, most often found on the ground but sometimes also on plants or in the air. They usually forage singly or in pairs.


The nest is a deep cup formed from moss and grass placed deep within a vine. The clutch consists of 2 white eggs with red and brown spots.


This species seems to be mostly quiet but even so a number of different sounds have been described. Calls include a clear whistle, and a high squeaky, repeated phrase, while song (often given as duets) is a weak squeaky chatter of "Tsi-wit" or "Tee" notes.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, T. A. Fredericks, J. A. Gerbracht, D. Lepage, S. M. Billerman, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2022. The eBird/Clements checklist of Birds of the World: v2022. Downloaded from https://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Gill, F, D Donsker, and P Rasmussen (Eds). 2023. IOC World Bird List (v 13.1)_red. Doi 10.14344/IOC.ML.13.1. http://www.worldbirdnames.org/
  3. Lepage D. (2021) [Avibase - https://avibase.ca/D5E07ED0]. Retrieved 24 November 2021
  4. Bird Forum Member observations
  5. del Hoyo, J., Collar, N. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Rufous-browed Chat-tyrant (Ochthoeca superciliosa). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from https://www.hbw.com/node/1343716 on 23 March 2020).
  6. Farnsworth, A., J. del Hoyo, N. Collar, G. Langham, and G. M. Kirwan (2020). Brown-backed Chat-Tyrant (Ochthoeca fumicolor), version 1.0. In Birds of the World (S. M. Billerman, B. K. Keeney, P. G. Rodewald, and T. S. Schulenberg, Editors). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bow.bbctyr1.01
  7. Ridgely, R.S., & P.J. Greenfield (2001). "The Birds of Ecuador - Field Guide". Comstock/Cornell Paperbacks. ISBN 978-0-8014-8721-7
  8. Schulenberg, T. S. & Stotz, D. F. & Lane, D. F. & O'Neill, J. P. & Parker III, T. A. & Egg, A. B. (2010). Birds of Peru: Revised and Updated Edition. Princeton: Princeton University Press. ISBN 978-0691130231

Recommended Citation

External Links

GSearch checked for 2020 platform.1