Family Ovenbirds (Furnariidae)

Least Concern

Elegant Woodcreeper (Xiphorhynchus elegans)


French: Grimpar élégant German: Schmuckbaumsteiger Spanish: Trepatroncos elegante
Other common names: Hellmayr's Woodcreeper (insignis), Ihering's Woodcreeper (juruanus), Ornate Woodcreeper (ornatus, buenavistae)

Dendrornis elegans


, 1868,

Engenho do Gama, Mato Grosso, Brazil


Closest to X. spixii (see below). Races insignis and juruanus regarded by most authors as races of X. spixii and by some as a full species; genetic evidence, however, supports treatment of juruanus at least as a race of X. elegans. Race buenavistae poorly differentiated from ornatus, insignis poorly differentiated from juruanus (the two intergrade in Ucayali Valley, Peru), and all sometimes united under juruanus#R, but remaining taxa inhabit large regions of Amazonia, show little or no clinal variation and intergrade along narrow zones of contact. Plumage variation further exhibits “leap-frog” pattern, with similar-appearing ornatus and nominate separated geographically by phenotypically different juruanus. Five subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • X. e. buenavistae J. T. Zimmer, 1948 – E slope of E Andes in SC Colombia (upper R Orinoco drainage in W Meta and Caquetá); unverified (but widely cited) report from upper Magdalena Valley (Huila).
  • X. e. ornatus J. T. Zimmer, 1934 – NW Amazonia N of Amazon, in SE Colombia (E Vaupés, S Amazonas), E Ecuador and NE Peru (N of R Marañón), and immediately adjacent NW Brazil (E to R Iça, possibly farther; specimens allegedly from São Paulo de Olivença, S of Amazon, probably originate from adjacent N bank or a nearby river island).
  • X. e. insignis (Hellmayr, 1905) – Andean foothills of EC Peru (S of R Marañón, W of R Ucayali).
  • X. e. juruanus (H. von Ihering, 1905) – SW Amazonia S of Amazon, in E & SE Peru (E of R Ucayali), W Brazil (E to R Purus and upper R Madeira, S to Acre) and NW Bolivia (Pando, Beni, La Paz); populations between R Purus and R Madeira intermediate with nominate.
  • X. e. elegans (Pelzeln, 1868) – S Amazonia in Brazil (R Madeira E to R Tapajós and S bank of R Teles Pires, S to SW Mato Grosso) and adjacent E Bolivia (extreme NE Santa Cruz).
  • Descriptive notes

    18–22·5 cm; male 31–38 g, female 29–35 g (nominate). Medium-sized woodcreeper with relatively long, slim, nearly straight bill. Nominate race has... read more


    Song, given primarily at dawn and dusk, 4·5–5 seconds long, a descending series of c.... read more


    Chiefly humid evergreen forest, principally terra firme and on floodplains, occasionally... read more

    Food and feeding

    Diet chiefly arthropods, but small vertebrates occasionally taken. Stomach contents primarily beetles and orthopterans of various types,... read more


    Specimens in breeding condition in mid-Aug to mid-Oct in Brazil (N Mato Grosso); adult incubating in late Sept, eggs hatching in early Oct... read more



    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Fairly common to common in lowland forest throughout core of range in Brazil, Peru, and even N Bolivia; rare to uncommon and quite local in lowlands... read more

    Recommended citation

    Marantz, C.A., Aleixo, A., Bevier, L.R. & Patten, M.A. (2019). Elegant Woodcreeper (Xiphorhynchus elegans). 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 8 December 2019).