Family Tapaculos (Rhinocryptidae)

Least Concern

Blackish Tapaculo (Scytalopus latrans)


French: Mérulaxe noirâtre German: Schwarztapaculo Spanish: Churrín negruzco

Scytalopus unicolor latrans


, 1924,

Cerro Munchique, 7000 feet [c. 2130 m], in coast range west of Popayán, Cauca, Colombia


Formerly treated as conspecific with S. unicolor, but differs vocally. Race subcinereus sometimes treated as separate species; further research needed. Birds from W slope of E Andes in Colombia and from mid-elevations on Amazonian slope from Venezuela to N Peru, although included in nominate race, differ from it somewhat in vocalizations and in plumage coloration, and those from Ecuador, at least, are genetically closer to subcinereus. Race intermedius vocally somewhat distinct from the other two subspecies, and the female is relatively distinct in plumage; further study required. Three subspecies currently recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • S. l. latrans Hellmayr, 1924 – W & C Andes and W slope of E Andes in Colombia, and W and inter-Andean Ecuador S to N Cañar (locally spilling over to upper Amazonian slope); also at mid-elevations on Amazonian slope from W Venezuela (Mérida) S to N Peru (N of R Marañón).
  • S. l. subcinereus J. T. Zimmer, 1939 – Pacific slope from SW Ecuador (Azuay) S to NW Peru (Cajamarca, where possibly also on E slope of W Andes near Cutervo).
  • S. l. intermedius J. T. Zimmer, 1939 – C Andes of Peru S of R Marañón, in S Amazonas.
  • Descriptive notes

    11 cm; male 15·9–20·9 g, female 14·2–20 g. A relatively small, very dark tapaculo. Male is uniform dark grey to blackish-grey, birds from... read more


    Song by both sexes, sometimes in duet, female higher-pitched, up to several minutes long, a single... read more


    Humid forest undergrowth, Chusquea bamboo or Neurolepis cane, humid Polylepis... read more

    Food and feeding

    Feeds on small arthropods. 32 stomachs all contained insects, in six cases noted as “tiny insects”, in one case including... read more


    In W part of range breeding known only during rainy season. One nest was globular, made of extensively branched, black capillary material,... read more


    Probably sedentary.

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Fairly common to common and widespread through most of range; least common on Amazonian slope. Opportunistic, and often numerous in second growth.... read more

    Recommended citation

    Krabbe, N.K. & Schulenberg, T.S. (2020). Blackish Tapaculo (Scytalopus latrans). 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 19 February 2020).