Family Gnateaters (Conopophagidae)

Least Concern

Black-cheeked Gnateater (Conopophaga melanops)


French: Conophage à joues noires German: Rotscheitel-Mückenfresser Spanish: Jejenero carinegro

Platyrhynchos melanops


, 1818,

South America; restricted to near Rio de Janeiro, Brazil


Perhaps closest to C. aurita. Races not clearly defined either morphologically or geographically, and taxonomy confused. Contrary to some published statements, black frontal band of male present in all populations; this band perhaps tends to be broader in N than in S, but very variable even at a single locality, and therefore unreliable for any taxonomic diagnosis; variation also in other plumage characters (e.g. presence of spots on wing-coverts or extent of grey or white in underparts) shows no apparent geographical pattern. Race perspicillata may not be diagnosable. Further study needed, especially of long series of specimens, in order to clarify situation. Three subspecies provisionally recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • C. m. nigrifrons O. M. O. Pinto, 1954 – coastal NE Brazil from SE Rio Grande do Norte#R S to Alagoas.
  • C. m. perspicillata (M. H. C. Lichtenstein, 1823) – coastal Bahia; records in adjacent Sergipe, to N, presumably of this race.
  • C. m. melanops (Vieillot, 1818) – SE Brazil from Espírito Santo S to C Santa Catarina.
  • Descriptive notes

    10·5–12 cm; three birds averaged 20·1 g. Male has rufous cap with orangish border, black forehead and facial mask, sometimes a few white feathers in... read more


    Song a tightly spaced trill at 1·5–3·5 kHz, becoming slightly louder as it... read more


    Interior and edge of dark, often mossy Atlantic Forest, frequently along streams or in ravines;... read more

    Food and feeding

    Small arthropods. Forages on or near ground; takes items from foliage and leaf litter by making short reaches and by gleaning.


    Oct and Nov in S half of range. Nest in S Bahia was 0·8 m above ground in small tree, another in Paraná 0·6 m above... read more



    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Generally common. Fairly common to common at Murici Ecological Reserve, in Alagoas, at Una Biological Reserve, in Bahia, at Sooretama Biological... read more

    Recommended citation

    Whitney, B. & de Juana, E. (2019). Black-cheeked Gnateater (Conopophaga melanops). 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 on 27 May 2019).