Family Tapaculos (Rhinocryptidae)

Least Concern

Mouse-colored Tapaculo (Scytalopus speluncae)


French: Mérulaxe souris German: Maustapaculo Spanish: Churrín plomizo

Malacorhynchus speluncae


, 1835,

São João del Rei, Minas Gerais, Brazil


The redefining of members of this genus in Brazilian uplands is based on comprehensive recent work and analysis of genetic population structure#R: the old “S. speluncae complex” is now considered to form three clades, centred respectively on S. novacapitalis, present species, and S. iraiensis, although last two may be linked#R; present species shares clade with S. gonzagai. Taxonomy of whole group of E Brazilian tapaculo species is confused by an apparently adaptational cline, from dark grey phenotypes with few or no barred feathers (at least in adult males) in coastal mountains to pale grey birds with heavily barred flanks in inland parts; further research required. Nomenclature disputed (see S. petrophilus, above). Monotypic.


E & SE Brazil in W Espírito Santo and S Minas Gerais S to N Rio Grande do Sul.

Descriptive notes

10·5 cm; male 11·5–16 g, female 12·5–15 g. A small, dark tapaculo, often without brown on flanks. Male is uniformly dark grey; iris dark... read more


Song usually 6–20 seconds long, a “tseh” note at 3·7–5 kHz (first... read more


Inhabits dense humid forest undergrowth, including pure stands of Chusquea and ... read more

Food and feeding

Diet known to include tiny insects. Feeds while hopping rapidly along on the ground, or within 1 m of it, crossing small open spaces very... read more


Only information published to date concerns an unseen (and thus undescribed) nest, found in early Nov in Rio Grande do Sul, to which both... read more


Probably sedentary.

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Fairly common to locally common, but uncommon in Rio Grande do Sul. Not rare in Serra do Caparaó National Park (Minas Gerais/... read more

Recommended citation

Krabbe, N.K., Schulenberg, T.S. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Mouse-colored Tapaculo (Scytalopus speluncae). 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).