Family Tapaculos (Rhinocryptidae)

Least Concern

Rock Tapaculo (Scytalopus petrophilus)


French: Mérulaxe des rochers German: Felstapaculo Spanish: Churrín roquero

Scytalopus petrophilus

Whitney et al.

, 2010,

Serra da Piedade, 1720 m, Caeté, Minas Gerais, Brazil


Probably sister to S. diamantinensis#R; see also S. novacapitalis and S. speluncae (below). Nomenclature confused: type locality and thereby identity of “Malacorhynchus speluncae” disputed#R#R, with dark#R and pale#R phenotypes alternatively involved; the name “speluncae” has traditionally been applied to the dark phenotype (as herein), but if applied to the pale form then name “petrophilus” would become a junior synonym of “speluncae”, while the dark phenotype would receive the new name “notorius#R; the old, currently unused name “undulatus” has also been mentioned in this context, but the type of this name appears to be a juvenile, of pale phenotype, with collecting locality unknown; DNA-testing of damaged type specimen of “speluncae” seems surest option for clarification, without resort to an application to ICZN for a ruling. Monotypic.


Patchily distributed within Espinhaço and Mantiqueira Ranges of Minas Gerais and N São Paulo#R (and near border with Rio de Janeiro), in E Brazil.

Descriptive notes

c. 10·5 cm; 11–16 g. A typical inland phenotype with rather pale grey plumage and largely ochraceous flanks. Crown and upperparts, including upperwing and tail,... read more


Song a protracted (often longer than one minute) fast repetition of one simple note, series... read more


Inhabits varied habitats, from open, rocky shrub associations (known in Brazil as campos... read more

Food and feeding

Diet very poorly known; stomachs of five specimens contained insect fragments, but presumably also takes other small arthropods, using... read more


Specimens with well-developed gonads in Sept to early Dec, with juveniles collected in Feb and Mar, and song most frequently heard between... read more


Probably sedentary; some dispersal between forest patches expected.

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Restricted-range species: present in Central Brazilian Hills and Tablelands EBA, within an overall range estimated at 83,500 km... read more

Recommended citation

Fjeldså, J. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Rock Tapaculo (Scytalopus petrophilus). 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 21 February 2020).