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Kidadl Team

AUGUST 27, 2021

Tapaculo: 15 Facts You Won’t Believe!

Discover fun tapaculo facts about its habitat, calls, distribution, song, taxonomy, and more!

Tapaculos are small-sized passeriform birds that belong to the Rhinocryptidae family. The Rhinocryptidae family comprises 54 species of ground-dwelling birds. Tapaculo birds are spread across 12 genera and belong to the order Passeriformes and the class Aves. These birds are mainly found in South America in the Andes and in Central America. Tapaculo birds nest in various locations, ranging from tree holes to ground burrows. Some species even make a ball-shaped nest in a low bush as they are terrestrial birds that prefer to stay out of sight. They prefer to dwell in wet montane or humid forest regions, tussock grassland habitats, lowland forests, tall grasses, bullrush, semi-humid forests, and arid scrubs. They are also often spotted in bamboo thickets.

These birds possess long legs, short wings, and strong feet which they utilize to dash across the ground. Many tapaculo species are gray or red-brown in color and they possess bars or spots over their plumage. The tapaculo bill is weak and straight and tapaculo birds that dwell in woodlands have been observed to have a darker plumage than those inhabiting scrub country regions. Their size ranges between that of the wren and the thrush. There are some tapaculos that are endangered currently, mainly due to habitat loss and human disturbances.

If you enjoy reading these fun facts, you can continue reading to learn plenty more interesting facts about the typical tapaculo appearance, diet, calls, habitat, and more! You can also check out our amaze-wing umbrellabird surprising facts and blue jay interesting facts!

Tapaculo Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a tapaculo?

Tapaculos are small-sized passerine birds. They are terrestrial birds that belong to the Rhinocryptidae family and they are found across Central and South America. It is believed that their closest relatives are gnateaters, ground antbirds, and members of the Formicarius and Chamaeza genera.

What class of animal does a tapaculo belong to?

These birds belong to the class Aves, the Rhinocryptidae family, and the order Passeriformes.

How many tapaculos are there in the world?

The population of all tapaculo birds has not yet been officially counted. However, the populations of some species of tapaculos are threatened due to habitat loss and human disturbances. The Bahia tapaculo (Scytalopus psychopompus) is known to face a significant threat from habitat loss.

Where does a tapaculo live?

The tapaculo range is widespread across Central and South America. It can be found from Costa Rica to Tierra del Fuego and most species dwell in temperate areas or inhabit mountainous regions. One species, Liosceles, dwells in the lowlands of the Amazon Rainforest. Many species can also be found throughout southeastern and southern Brazil and in some regions of Paraguay and Argentina. Species of the Teledromas genus can be found in western Argentina's desert scrubs and Scytalopus is the most widespread genus in the Andes. A single species of Scytalopus can be seen in Venezuela's coastal mountains. Tapaculo species of the genera Acropternis and Myornis are found only in the northern Andes and species of the genera Eugralla, Scelorchilus, and Pteroptochos are found only in the southern Andes. Three species, namely the Taracuna, the silvery-fronted tapaculo, and the Chocó tapaculo are found in southern Central America.

What is a tapaculo's habitat?

The typical tapaculo habitat includes wet montane or humid forests, tussock grasslands, lowland forests, tall grasses, bullrush, semi-humid forests, and arid scrubs. This bird can be frequently spotted in the thick undergrowth of forests.

Who do tapaculos live with?

These birds live a very secluded life. They prefer not to spend time in open areas which is why spotting them is quite hard. However, they have been observed in pairs sometimes.

How long does a tapaculo live?

There is not much data available about the lifespan of tapaculos. However, we do know that the average lifespan of small-sized birds is two years.

How do they reproduce?

Most tapaculos are known to form pairs that remain in place for life. However, as they are small in size, their partner is lost quite easily. Some species build cup-shaped nests and some build nests that have an entrance on the side for breeding. The nest is often placed above the ground, in a hollow trunk, or at a tunnel's end. The tunnel may be a rodent's abandoned burrow or it could be dug by the bird itself. The nest is known to be quite soft and is built from twigs, moss, grass, and root fibers. Typically two to three eggs are laid in this nest. A typical tapaculo egg is white in color and it is quite large when compared to the tiny size of the bird. These eggs are incubated for a period of 15-17 days and the gestation period lasts for 14-15 days. Males of some species are known to incubate the eggs too. The young are hatched naked and are fed by the female.

What is their conservation status?

Two tapaculo bird species, Scytalopus psychopompus and Merulaxis stresemanni, are currently classified under the Least Concern category. Scytalopus iraiensis, a recently discovered species, inhabits rushy marshes in southern Brazil that are facing human disturbances so this puts the species at risk. Scytalopus panamensis is classified under the Vulnerable category due to forest clearances.

Tapaculo Fun Facts

What do tapaculos look like?

Tapaculos have densely feathered bodies. Their size ranges between that of the wren and the thrush. The plumage coloration is typically dull and is of gray, black, brown, chestnut, reddish-brown, or white colors. They also possess large claws and strong feet. The tapaculo beak is weak and straight and the wings of these birds are rounded and short. Male and female tapaculos look similar to each other..

Tapaculo birds have gray, black, brown, chestnut, reddish-brown, or white-colored plumage!

How cute are they?

The ocellated tapaculo (Acropternis orthonyx) bird is a very cute-looking bird. It possesses a black coloration primarily and sports large white markings. It also has a beautiful red head and a characteristic red throat. Tapaculo feathers are quite dull mainly, but the bird's small size and splashes of red, chestnut, and white colors on their plumage make them look quite cute.

How do they communicate?

These birds are quite secretive and their existence can be detected only through their loud calls. The loud sounds produced by the Chucao tapaculo (Chucao tapaculo) also feature in southern Chile's folklore. The dusky tapaculo is a shy bird that can is described as loud due to its trilling and rapid calls. Also the song of the Planalto tapaculo includes a long sequence of notes that starts off at a rate of three per second and then quickens into a trill.

How big is a tapaculo?

This bird ranges between 3.9–9.1 in (9.9–23.1 cm) in length. It is three times smaller than the rock dove!

How fast can a tapaculo fly?

It is very rare to see a tapaculo flying as it is a terrestrial bird. It is nearly flightless and tapaculo flight is very weak just like that of the Ceylon junglefowl. This bird of the Rhinocryptidae family is known to hop, run, and walk on the forest floor, but there is not much data about the speed of these birds due to their inconspicuous nature. Species of the Acropternis genus are described as lethargic as they are quite slow-moving.

How much does a tapaculo weigh?

This bird weighs between the range of 0.37–6.53 oz (10.4–185.1 g).

What are their male and female names of the species?

The female is referred to as tapaculo female and the male is referred to as tapaculo male.

What would you call a baby tapaculo?

A tapaculo baby is referred to as a chick.

What do they eat?

Similar to robins, the average tapaculo diet comprises insects, spiders, and berries. It has been found recently that this bird adds a significant amount of berries to its daily intake.

Are they dangerous?

No, these birds of the Rhinocryptidae family are not dangerous.

Would they make a good pet?

There are no instances of these birds being kept in captivity. However, an ocellated tapaculo, Acropternis orthonyx, was once kept in a zoo in New York for a brief while. It passed away shortly though.

Did you know...

The feathers of tapaculos fall off quickly as a defense mechanism against predators!

How did tapaculos get their name?

The name tapaculo originates from a Spanish phrase that describes this bird's habit of covering its rump with the help of its tail tilted on top of its back. It is also assumed that the name of this bird is derived from the Chilean name of the white-throated tapaculo, which is tapaculo. It can also be used to refer to the song of these birds.

What is special about tapaculos?

Tapaculos are known to be secretive bird species that look quite unique and unusual. They are known for their loud songs as these songs are the only way to find them.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! For more related content, check out our Ani bird surprising facts and whiskered treeswift interesting facts.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable bird coloring pages.

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