• Welcome to BirdForum, the internet's largest birding community with thousands of members from all over the world. The forums are dedicated to wild birds, birding, binoculars and equipment and all that goes with it.

    Please register for an account to take part in the discussions in the forum, post your pictures in the gallery and more.
ZEISS DTI thermal imaging cameras. For more discoveries at night, and during the day.

White-crested Elaenia - BirdForum Opus

Subspecies chilensis
Photo © by Joseph Morlan.
Puerto Chacabuco, Chile, 14 January 2023.
Elaenia albiceps

Includes: Chilean Elaenia


Length 14·5–15 cm (5¾-6 in)
Typical appearance of other small olive flycatchers, but has a large white crown patch, which is usually raised and quite obvious. Two wing-bars, (strong and white in the Chilean subspecies), but less distinct in the Peruvian subspecies, which also has a yellowish crest and eye-ring. Often confused with similar Small-billed Elaenia which has three wing-bars instead of two.


Subspecies chilensis
Photo © by Rodrigo Reyes
Photo taken: Puerto Bertrand, Patagonia, Chile

Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Falkland Islands, Paraguay, Peru, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, and Uruguay. Accidental vagrant to the United States with one record in Texas[3].



Six subspecies are recognized[1]. Among these, two are especially noteworthy because they may eventually be separated into different species:

  • E. a. modesta (Peruvian) is found in arid tropical western Peru (La Libertad) and in lowlands in the northernmost part of Chile; at least partly resident year round
  • E. a. chilensis (Chilean, sometimes split as full species) is breeding significantly south of modesta, in the Andes of Bolivia to Tierra del Fuego but highly migratory and completely leaves the breeding areas travelling north to winter in Brazil. Recent results indicate this form is closer related to Sierran Elaenia
Subspecies chilensis
Photo © by Luis R
Parcela Araguaney. Santiago de Chile, February 2016

The other four subspecies are:

  • E. a. griseigularis:
  • Andes of south-western Colombia (Nariño) to Ecuador and north-western Peru
  • E. a. diversa:
  • Central Andes of Peru (Cajamarca to Huánuco)
  • E. a. urubambae:
  • Subtropical south-easterb Peru (Cuzco)
  • E. a. albiceps:
  • Extreme se Peru (Puno) and nw Bolivia


Shrubland, forests or gardens, with slight differences in preference for the different populations; the Peruvian subspecies can be found in urban areas, agricultural areas, and riparian areas while chilensis seems more closely related to forest in breeding season.


Some populations are residents while others migrate north in winter.


Their diet consists mostly of insects and berries. Occasionally they have been observed feeding on nectar.


Their cup-shaped nest is made from twigs, bound together with vegetable fibres.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2015. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2015, with updates to August 2015. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Alvaro Jaramillo. 2003. Birds of Chile. Princeton Field Guides. ISBN 0-691-11740-3
  3. 51st supplement to the AOU checklist of North American birds
  4. Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive (retrieved February 2016)

Recommended Citation

External Links

GSearch checked for 2020 platform.1