Family Tyrant-flycatchers (Tyrannidae)

Least Concern

Spot-billed Ground-tyrant (Muscisaxicola maculirostris)


French: Dormilon à bec maculé German: Schnabelfleck-Grundtyrann Spanish: Dormilona chica

M[uscisaxicola]. maculirostris

d’Orbigny and Lafresnaye

, 1837,

La Paz, Bolivia


Usually considered closely allied to M. fluviatilis, but phylogenetic work#R does not suggest so close a relationship. Three subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • M. m. niceforoi J. T. Zimmer, 1947 – N part of E Andes of Colombia (Boyacá, Cundinamarca).
  • M. m. rufescens Berlepsch & Stolzmann, 1896 – Ecuador (Pichincha S to Chimborazo).
  • M. m. maculirostris d’Orbigny & Lafresnaye, 1837 – Peru (S from Cajamarca), Bolivia, Chile (S to Magallanes) and W Argentina (Jujuy S to Santa Cruz); S populations migrate N.
  • Descriptive notes

    14–15 cm. Smallest highland ground-tyrant. Nominate race has short buffish-white supercilium, dusky line through eye; smoky grey with brownish tinge above, wings... read more


    In aerial display “t-t-tk-tk” and “wheeoo”, repeated up to 15 times; also utters short “tek”.


    Xeric barren areas with sparse bushy vegetation, preferring steep rocky slopes, banks or walls;... read more

    Food and feeding

    Insects. Usually singly or in pairs; less often in small and loose groups during non-breeding period; less conspicuous than other ground-... read more


    Generally Oct–Mar; Jun–Jul in Ecuador and Colombia, eggs in Oct–Nov in Chile, and nests in Dec–Jan and fledgling in... read more


    Mostly resident; at least a partial migrant in S portion of range, most birds moving N after... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Uncommon to fairly common. Apparently less abundant in N & S than in C parts of range; isolated N race niceforoi is included on... read more

    Recommended citation

    Farnsworth, A. & Langham, G. (2019). Spot-billed Ground-tyrant (Muscisaxicola maculirostris). 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 6 December 2019).