Family Tyrant-flycatchers (Tyrannidae)

Least Concern

Rufous-crowned Tody-flycatcher (Poecilotriccus ruficeps)


French: Todirostre bariolé German: Rostkappen-Todityrann Spanish: Titirijí capirrufo
Other common names: Rufous-crowned Tody-tyrant

Tod[iramphus]. ruficeps


, 1852,

“? Mexico”; error, type presumably a “Bogotá” (Colombia) skin


Races form two groups based on plumage type, namely “bridled group” and “plain-headed group”; two specimens from Boyacá may be hybrids (melanomystax × nominate), but otherwise lack of intergradation between the groups, combined with notable plumage differences, suggests that groups may represent two separate species, although vocalizations similar; while preliminary analysis#R found no genetic divergence between groups, reproductive isolation of latter would help to explain curious “leap-frog” distribution of races; further study required, especially in S Ecuador and Boyacá. See also P. luluae (below). Four subspecies currently recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • P. r. ruficeps (Kaup, 1852) – Rufous-crowned Tody-flycatcher – extreme SW Venezuela (S Táchira), and E Andes (Norte de Santander, Santander), W & C Andes (SW Valle, Cauca, W Huila, Nariño) and E slope of SW Andes (Nariño) of Colombia S to SC Ecuador (NE Loja); recently recorded, perhaps this race, in Sierra de Perijá, Colombia#R.
  • P. r. rufigenis (P. L. Sclater & Salvin, 1877) – W slope of Andes of SW Colombia (Nariño) and W Ecuador (S to Azuay).
  • P. r. melanomystax Hellmayr, 1927 – Andes in W Venezuela (N Mérida, E Trujillo) and C Andes (Antioquia S to C Valle and head of Magdalena Valley) and W slope of E Andes (Cundinamarca) of Colombia.
  • P. r. peruvianus Chapman, 1924 – Bridled Tody-flycatcher – S Ecuador (Loja, Zamora-Chinchipe) and N Peru (Piura, Cajamarca).
  • Descriptive notes

    9–10·2 cm; 6·6 g. Nominate race has distinctive bright rufous crown and grey nape separated by black line which connects with thin black malar stripe;... read more


    Call low-pitched flat “chak”, “tttrew”, “patreer-pít” or... read more


    Thickets, bamboo, shrubs and small saplings at forest edges, in second growth, hedgerows, overgrown... read more

    Food and feeding

    Insectivore. Feeds alone, in pairs or in family groups, rarely in mixed-species flocks. Uses short forward or upward sallies to catch... read more


    Birds with enlarged gonads in Mar–Sept. No other relevant information.



    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Uncommon to locally fairly common or common. Locally common in Colombia; locally fairly common in NW Ecuador. Occurs in Guaramacal National Park, in... read more

    Recommended citation

    Walther, B. (2020). Rufous-crowned Tody-flycatcher (Poecilotriccus ruficeps). 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 24 February 2020).