Family Tyrant-flycatchers (Tyrannidae)

Least Concern

Plain-capped Ground-tyrant (Muscisaxicola alpinus)


French: Dormilon à grands sourcils German: Weißbrauen-Grundtyrann Spanish: Dormilona gris
Other common names: Paramo Ground-tyrant

Tænioptera alpina


, 1849,

Quito, Ecuador


In past, sometimes considered conspecific with M. griseus and M. cinereus, but molecular work#R supports treatment as distinct species. See also M. cinereus. Races weakly differentiated. Three subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • M. a. columbianus Chapman, 1912 – C Andes of Colombia (Caldas to Cauca).
  • M. a. quesadae Meyer de Schauensee, 1942 – E Andes of Colombia (Boyacá, Santander, Cundinamarca).
  • M. a. alpinus (Jardine, 1849) – extreme S Colombia (Nariño)#R and Ecuador (Carchi to Azuay); records from N of R Marañón in Peru may refer to this species#R.
  • Descriptive notes

    18–19 cm. Has long and broad white supercilium extending beyond eye, small white area below eye; lores dusky; greyish-brown above, crown tinged sepia-brown; wings... read more


    Generally silent; weak plaintive note (Colombia), also occasional soft “tik” note.


    Arid montane scrub, puna and páramo grasslands, often where rocky; also,... read more

    Food and feeding

    Insects. Feeds on ground, making run or hops, often suddenly stopping, and standing erect; sometimes sallies to ground from low perch;... read more


    Sept–Dec in Colombia (Boyacá) and at least Aug–Oct in Ecuador. Displaying male repeatedly hovers, stalls and drops. Nest... read more



    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Locally fairly common to common. Especially numerous at higher elevations in Cotopaxi National Park, in Ecuador. Rather uncommon in Colombia. Occurs... read more

    Recommended citation

    Farnsworth, A., Langham, G. & de Juana, E. (2020). Plain-capped Ground-tyrant (Muscisaxicola alpinus). 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 29 March 2020).