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Gray-headed Elaenia - BirdForum Opus

Male on the left; female on the right
Photo by arthurgrosset
Jaqueira, Pernambuco. Brazil, March 2004

Alternative name: Atlantic Gray Elaenia

Myiopagis caniceps


12–13 cm
A dimorphic species where the male is grey and the female is more green. Wings are black with two wingbars, and conspicuous feather edges.

  • Upperside grey with olive wash on the rear half
  • Head with white lores and crown patch (usually concealed)
  • Wings black with white wing bars and white edges to inner flight feathers and tertials
  • Throat white
  • Breast grey
  • Belly whitish
  • Eye is brown
  • Bill blackish


  • Upperside green with olive wash
  • Wings black, wing bars and feather edges yellow
  • Crown patch yellow (mostly concealed)
  • Head and underside similar to male except for yellow wash towards the rear

Similar Species

Choco Elaenia differ in having white crown patch in both sexes, relatively smaller bill, and trill song with fewer notes both per song and per second. Amazonian Elaenia has bluer upperparts in male, greener in female, bill is relatively longer, and the difference in trilled song is mainly towards the end.


South America: found from southeastern Peru, northern Bolivia, and adjacent Brazil as well as from eastern and southern Bolivia south to northwestern Argentina and east to Paraguay, northeastern Argentina, and south central and eastern Brazil


This is a monotypic species[1].

The population from southeastern Peru, northern Bolivia, and adjacent Brazil may be an undescribed subspecies?

This species was formerly named Gray Elaenia and then included Choco Elaenia and Amazonian Elaenia.


Canopy of a variety of forest and woodland, frequently in dry forest types.



Their diet consists of insects and small fruits.


One frequently heard song is a trill which is a fast paced series of notes of relatively high pitch, but trailing off towards the end. This series is faster and contains more notes than in Choco Elaenia and Amazonian Elaenia.


  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. Ferneda, R. V., C. O. Gussoni, J. W. Fitzpatrick, J. del Hoyo, G. M. Kirwan, and N. Collar (2022). Gray-headed Elaenia (Myiopagis caniceps), version 1.0. In Birds of the World (N. D. Sly, S. M. Billerman, and B. K. Keeney, Editors). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bow.gryela3.01
  4. Birdforum Member observations

Recommended Citation

External Links

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