Family Puffbirds (Bucconidae)

Least Concern

Rusty-breasted Nunlet (Nonnula rubecula)


French: Barbacou rufalbin German: Rotkehl-Faulvogel Spanish: Monjilla macurú

Bucco rubecula


, 1824,

Malhada, Rio São Francisco, western Bahia, Brazil


Closely related to N. sclateri and N. brunnea. Taxonomy uncertain and confused: listed races may involve more than one species; moreover, some of listed races probably comprise more than one taxon (e.g. nominate race in E Brazil has plumage soft and silky, in SE of range plumage loosely webbed, in both cases numerous tonal differences from “typical” nominate); also, validity of some recognized races possibly doubtful; extensive revision needed. Seven subspecies tentatively recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • N. r. duidae Chapman, 1914 – E Venezuela in S Amazonas (N of R Orinoco).
  • N. r. interfluvialis Parkes, 1970 – S Venezuela (S of R Orinoco) S to R Negro, in N Brazil.
  • N. r. tapanahoniensis Mees, 1968 – S Guianas and N Brazil (N bank of lower Amazon).
  • N. r. simulatrix Parkes, 1970 – SE Colombia, and NW Brazil (between R Negro and R Amazon).
  • N. r. cineracea P. L. Sclater, 1881 – NE Ecuador, NE Peru, and W Brazil S of Amazon (S to Rondônia).
  • N. r. simplex Todd, 1937 – S bank of lower Amazon, in N Brazil.
  • N. r. rubecula (Spix, 1824) – E & SE Brazil (Bahia and Goiás S to Rio Grande do Sul and Santa Catarina#R#R), E Paraguay and NE Argentina (Misiones).
  • Descriptive notes

    14–16 cm; 17–20 g. Whitish band from nasal tufts joining white eyering; blackish moustachial line, white chin; plain dark grey-brown upperparts and sides of head... read more


    Vocalizes mainly around dawn and dusk, when usually affects the canopy. Song a mewing series of... read more


    Found mainly in midstorey (but from ground level to canopy) of humid terra firme and (vine... read more

    Food and feeding

    Large arthropods reported, including beetles, crabs, stick insects, katydids (Orthoptera) and insect larvae up to 2·5 cm long.... read more


    Immature seen in Nov in lower Amazon and adults feeding two fledged young in early Dec in Minas Gerais (Brazil). Nest in hole in bank or in... read more


    Presumably resident.

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Widely reported as being rare, on basis of very low contact rates during fieldwork, but species is probably under-recorded owing to unobtrusive... read more

    Recommended citation

    Rasmussen, P.C., Collar, N. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Rusty-breasted Nunlet (Nonnula rubecula). 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 January 2020).