Family Tyrant-flycatchers (Tyrannidae)

Least Concern

White-crested Elaenia (Elaenia albiceps)


French: Élénie à cimier blanc German: Weißkronen-Olivtyrann Spanish: Fiofío crestiblanco

M[uscipeta]. albiceps

d’Orbigny and Lafresnaye

, 1837,

Yungas, Bolivia


Suggested to be conspecific with E. parvirostris but this is refuted by genetic data#R. Race chilensis has been treated as separate species, although no significant vocal differences; but genetic data#R suggest that this taxon is much closer to E. pallatangae than to other races of present species. Duller, paler form modesta, said to be vocally distinct#R; sometimes treated as separate species. Race griseigularis may hybridize with E. pallatangae in Ecuador. Six subspecies currently recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • E. a. griseigularis P. L. Sclater, 1859 – SW Colombia (Nariño) S to NW Peru (W Cajamarca).
  • E. a. diversa J. T. Zimmer, 1941 – Andes of NC Peru (Cajamarca S to Huánuco).
  • E. a. urubambae J. T. Zimmer, 1941 – SE Peru (Urubamba Valley in Cuzco).
  • E. a. albiceps (d’Orbigny & Lafresnaye, 1837) – White-crested Elaenia – E slope of Andes of SE Peru (Puno) S to C Bolivia (Cochabamba).
  • E. a. modesta Tschudi, 1844 – Peruvian Elaenia – NW Peru (Lambayeque) S to NW Chile (Tarapacá).
  • E. a. chilensis Hellmayr, 1927 – Chilean Elaenia – Andes from S Bolivia (Chuquisaca) S to Argentina (S to Catamarca and W Córdoba), thence S in lowlands, in Chile S from Atacama, to Tierra del Fuego; migrates N as far as Peru, SE Colombia and N & NE Brazil (Pará and Bahia).
  • Descriptive notes

    14·5–15 cm; 15–16 g. Small elaenia, only slightly crested, but white coronal stripe often visible. Nominate race has top of head and upperparts uniform... read more


    Call during breeding a burry “feeur” or “feeo”, sometimes repeated over and over for long periods,... read more


    Scrub, woodland borders, gardens and shrubby areas. Prefers more arid non-forested areas in N part... read more

    Food and feeding

    Insects and berries; also recorded feeding on nectar of introduced Grevillea robusta. Sometimes solitary, but will congregate at... read more


    Nov–Jan. Nest a well-built cup 8·5 cm in diameter, 5 cm deep, made of vegetable fibres and small twigs, decorated with lichens, lined... read more


    In N of range largely resident, but probably descending to lower elevations during non-breeding... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Fairly common to locally abundant; appears to be less numerous in N. Occurs in many national parks and other protected areas... read more

    Recommended citation

    Hosner, P. (2020). White-crested Elaenia (Elaenia albiceps). 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 3 April 2020).