Family Ovenbirds (Furnariidae)

Least Concern

Spotted Barbtail (Premnoplex brunnescens)


French: Anabasitte tachetée German: Hellkehl-Stachelschwanz Spanish: Subepalo moteado

Margarornis brunnescens

P. L. Sclater

, 1856,



Sister to P. tatei, and formerly treated as conspecific (see that species). One recent study#R found significant genetic differentiation among all currently listed races of present species, suggesting that all of them (and also population of C Peru) may merit treatment as separate species. Populations of Trujillo and Barinas (Venezuela) tentatively placed with nominate race; further study required. In Panama, proposed races albescens (E Darién) and mnionophilus (Cerro Campana) considered indistinguishable from nominate, and distinctus (Veraguas) indistinguishable from brunneicauda. Five subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • P. b. brunneicauda (Lawrence, 1865) – mountains of Costa Rica and W Panama (E to Veraguas).
  • P. b. brunnescens (P. L. Sclater, 1856) – extreme E Panama (E Darién) and adjacent NW Colombia, Sierra de Perijá, and Andes of W Venezuela (Trujillo, Barinas, Mérida, Táchira) S (in all three ranges in Colombia, also Macarena Mts, in S Meta) to Ecuador and Peru (S to Cuzco).
  • P. b. coloratus Bangs, 1902 – Santa Marta Mts of N Colombia.
  • P. b. rostratus Hellmayr & Seilern, 1912 – Coastal Range of N Venezuela (Lara E to Miranda and Aragua).
  • P. b. stictonotus (Berlepsch, 1901) – Andes from S Peru (Puno) S to W & C Bolivia (S to Cochabamba).
  • Descriptive notes

    13–15 cm; 14–19 g. Small, dark furnariid with a rich ventral pattern. Nominate race has a series of closely spaced tawny-ochraceous spots above and behind the eye... read more


    Song an explosive, high, dry, thin “eep, eep, eep, ti-ti-ti-tititit”, trilled at end, also... read more


    Montane evergreen forest, especially in areas with extensive moss and epiphytes. Mainly 1200–... read more

    Food and feeding

    Reported dietary items include Coleoptera (of families Scarabaeidae, Brenthidae), ants and other Hymenoptera, cockroach (Blattodea) eggs,... read more


    Season mainly Mar–Jun in Central America; in Andes, eggs in Mar and Jun in Ecuador, and nestlings in Apr in Colombia and Ecuador.... read more



    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Fairly common to common, locally uncommon. Occurs in numerous protected areas throughout extensive range, including Tapantí... read more

    Recommended citation

    Remsen, J.V., Jr (2020). Spotted Barbtail (Premnoplex brunnescens). 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).