Family Puffbirds (Bucconidae)

Least Concern

White-whiskered Puffbird (Malacoptila panamensis)


French: Tamatia de Lafresnaye German: Weißzügel-Faulvogel Spanish: Buco barbón

Malacoptila panamensis


, 1847,



Probably closely related to M. fulvogularis and M. mystacalis. Race inornata the most distinctive, male with little or no streaking below breast, female with little or no breast patch, but variation likely clinal. Birds from SE Nicaragua to W Panama sometimes separated as race fuliginosa, but this name probably based on an aberrant individual and these populations are indistinguishable from inornata; birds from Pacific coast of Chocó, in NW Colombia, described as race chocoana, inseparable from panamensis. Four subspecies currently recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • M. p. inornata (Du Bus de Gisignies, 1847) – Caribbean slope from SE Mexico (N Chiapas, E Tabasco) to W Panama (including Bocas del Toro).
  • M. p. panamensis Lafresnaye, 1847 – Pacific slope from SW Costa Rica to NW Colombia.
  • M. p. magdalenae Todd, 1943 – Magdalena Valley (WC Colombia).
  • M. p. poliopis P. L. Sclater, 1862 – SW Colombia and W Ecuador.
  • Descriptive notes

    18–21 cm; 33–46 g. Male mainly rufous, in particular on lores and on supercilium; ear-coverts long with pale rufescent shaft streaks; whitish central streak on... read more


    Weak peep or high, thin whistles; high, faint “tsinnnn” in alarm; in territorial fights... read more


    Understorey (3–8 m) of primary humid and wet forest near treefalls, edge, older adjacent... read more

    Food and feeding

    Large invertebrates, including scorpions (Scorpiones), spiders, roaches (Blattodea), crickets, mantids, stick-insects (Phasmida), beetles,... read more


    Jul in Mexico; Apr–Jul in Nicaragua; Mar–Jul, main activity Apr–May, in Costa Rica; May–Aug in Panama, with digging... read more


    Presumably resident.

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Like many other species of tropical rainforest in Central America, it decreases rapidly from S to N, and is not really common anywhere N of Costa... read more

    Recommended citation

    Rasmussen, P.C. & Collar, N. (2019). White-whiskered Puffbird (Malacoptila panamensis). 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 April 2019).