Family Wrens (Troglodytidae)

Least Concern

White-breasted Wood-wren (Henicorhina leucosticta)


French: Troglodyte à poitrine blanche German: Waldzaunkönig Spanish: Cucarachero pechiblanco

Cyphorhinus leucosticta


, 1847,



Molecular study#R suggests three species may be involved: (a) Middle American taxa, (b) Chocó taxon inornata, presumably with albilateralis and eucharis, and (c) Amazonian taxa (nominate race with hauxwelli), but substantial work needed to confirm the morphological and vocal consistency of these groups (songs do not appear to differ markedly at least from Mexico to Ecuador), and subsequent DNA work indicates that intra-group variation might be substantial making a much more complete phylogeographic study also necessary#R. Race prostheleuca intergrades with smithei in SE Mexico (extreme S Quintana Roo) and N Belize. Thirteen subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • H. l. decolorata A. R. Phillips, 1986 – E Mexico (San Luis Potosí S to N Veracruz and N Puebla).
  • H. l. prostheleuca (P. L. Sclater, 1857) – Northern White-breasted Wood-wren – S & E Mexico (from Veracruz and N Chiapas) E to Belize.
  • H. l. smithei Dickerman, 1973 – S part of Yucatán Peninsula S to Guatemala.
  • H. l. tropaea Bangs & J. L. Peters, 1927 – Honduras and Nicaragua.
  • H. l. costaricensis Dickerman, 1973 – N & E Costa Rica.
  • H. l. pittieri Cherrie, 1893 – SW Costa Rica and W Panama.
  • H. l. alexandri A. R. Phillips, 1986 – E Panama and immediately adjacent NW Colombia.
  • H. l. darienensis Hellmayr, 1921 – E Panama (Darién) and W Colombia (S to Baudo Mts).
  • H. l. inornata Hellmayr, 1903 – Choco White-breasted Wood-wren – W Colombia (S of R San Juan) S to extreme NW Ecuador.
  • H. l. albilateralis Chapman, 1917 – W Colombia (lower Cauca Valley, middle Magdalena Valley).
  • H. l. eucharis Bangs, 1910 – W Colombia (Valle del Cauca).
  • H. l. leucosticta (Cabanis, 1847) – Amazonian White-breasted Wood-wren – E & S Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname, French Guiana), and N Brazil (N Amazonas, Roraima, Amapá).
  • H. l. hauxwelli C. Chubb, 1920 – tropical zone of upper Amazonia in S Colombia (S from Meta and Vaupés), E Ecuador and NE Peru (S to Huánuco and Ucayali).
  • Descriptive notes

    10–11·5 cm; mean 15·7 g. Nominate race has lores blackish-grey, supercilium greyish in front of eye, white behind; blackish area behind eye bordered with... read more


    Song loud and powerful, consists of 3–5 clear whistles, constantly repeated as a phrase,... read more


    Inhabits wet lowland forest, from sea-level up to 1300 m; more rarely, up to 1800 m or even 2000 m.

    Food and feeding

    Food mostly or entirely invertebrates; nestling diet entirely animal, especially grubs and larvae. Forages from ground level up to 2–... read more


    Season Feb–May, rarely Jan, in Costa Rica and Feb–Jul in Suriname; newly fledged young in Dec in French Guiana, and birds in... read more


    Apparently entirely sedentary.

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Considered common or abundant over much of its range. Although much of its habitat has been lost to agricultural and other development, this species... read more

    Recommended citation

    Kroodsma, D. & Brewer, D. (2020). White-breasted Wood-wren (Henicorhina leucosticta). 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 9 April 2020).