Family Ovenbirds (Furnariidae)

Least Concern

Plain Xenops (Xenops genibarbis)


French: Sittine d’Illiger German: Weißkinn-Baumspäher Spanish: Picolezna liso

Xenops genibarbis


, 1811,

Cametá (Rio Tocantins), Brazil


Hitherto treated as conspecific with X. minutus. Molecular analysis#R and vocal evidence#R combine to indicate strong difference between NW clade (“mexicanus group”) and SE clade (“genibarbis group”); former taxa sing with accelerating trill that rises, then falls, while latter produce slower (2) song with fewer notes (2), not varying (or little) in speed and pitch (indeed, mexicanus and ridgwayi differ somewhat in loudsong from others in their clade, accelerating more and falling more in pitch at end); however, morphological distinctions between these groups slight, and fuller analysis of all evidence needed before species limits reconsidered. Race alagoanus, widely overlooked since first described in 1954, is most similar to members of SE clade, but very poorly known. Proposed race cayoensis (Belize) not diagnosable; Honduran populations of mexicanus approach ridgwayi in most characters, and latter is very like littoralis. Sight records from NW Peru (Tumbes) presumed to refer to littoralis. Race remoratus intergrades with ruficaudus in S Venezuela (R Casiquiare region). Ten subspecies tentatively recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • X. g. mexicanus P. L. Sclater, 1857 – Northwestern Plain Xenops – S Mexico (from Veracruz and N Oaxaca) S to Honduras.
  • X. g. ridgwayi E. J. O. Hartert & Goodson, 1917 – Nicaragua S to C Panama.
  • X. g. littoralis P. L. Sclater, 1862 – E Panama (Darién) and N Colombia (E to Cauca and Magdalena Valleys) S to W Ecuador and extreme NW Peru (Tumbes).
  • X. g. olivaceus Aveledo & Pons, 1952 – Sierra de Perijá of NE Colombia and NW Venezuela.
  • X. g. neglectus Todd, 1913 – NE Colombia (S to Cundinamarca) and NW Venezuela (E to Miranda).
  • X. g. remoratus J. T. Zimmer, 1935 – E Colombia (E from Meta and Caquetá), SW Venezuela (SW Amazonas) and NW Brazil (NW Amazonas E to R Negro).
  • X. g. ruficaudus (Vieillot, 1816) – E Colombia (Vichada), S & E Venezuela (Amazonas and Bolívar E to Paria Peninsula), the Guianas and N Brazil (E of R Negro).
  • X. g. obsoletus J. T. Zimmer, 1924 – E Ecuador, E Peru, W Brazil (S of R Amazon, E to R Madeira) and N Bolivia (S to N Santa Cruz).
  • X. g. genibarbis Illiger, 1811 – Southeastern Plain Xenops – C Brazil (R Madeira E to Piauí, S to S Mato Grosso and N Goiás).
  • X. g. alagoanus O. M. O. Pinto, 1954 – NE Brazil from Paraíba S to Alagoas.
  • Descriptive notes

    11–12 cm; 9–15·5 g. Short, wedge-shaped bill; the only member of genus without prominent streaking and with graduated tail. Plumage most like that of formerly conspecific... read more


    Song a series of 8–10 high, staccato “swee” or “pseep” notes, slightly ascending and then... read more


    Tropical lowland and flooded evergreen forest; locally in tropical deciduous forest and gallery... read more

    Food and feeding

    Recorded dietary items are insect eggs, termites (Isopoda), spiders, ants and their larvae, other Hymenoptera, Dermaptera, katydids (... read more


    Season Dec to at least Jun in Costa Rica and Panama, also active nest in Sept (Panama), May–Jun in NC Venezuela, and Feb and Jul–Nov around... read more



    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Uncommon to common over most of its huge range (estimated 14,000,000 km²). Estimated densities of 12–30 birds/km² in transitional... read more

    Recommended citation

    del Hoyo, J., Collar, N. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Plain Xenops (Xenops genibarbis). 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 25 February 2020).