Birds Flora Fauna Ecosystems

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Chucao Tapaculo
Scelorchilus rubecula

Scelorchilus rubecula
Length: 180mm. Sexes alike. Bill black; iris dark brown; upperparts of head, hind neck and back olivaceous brown. Eyebrow rufous, side of head above the eyebrow is grey, auriculars grey. Throat, neck and upper breast rufous; rest of breast and belly grey with thin black and whitish barring; flanks grey turning olivaceous brown on lower part. Wing coverts olivaceous brown; remiges brown; rectrices olivaceous brown. Legs brown, slightly rufous. Average weight: 45g.
Habitat and behaviour: this species inhabits thick vegetation of humid and dark forests, where it may be seen scurrying amidst rotting plants, fast as a shadow, so that only a fleeting glimpse may be caught. It feeds by scraping the ground, and when startled climbs onto the lower branches of the thickness, its tail held upright. To sight the Chucao one must remain still and quiet, thus curiosity drives it to approach very trustfully.
Its powerful call may be heard from considerable distances, it is uttered at intervals probably to communicate amongst them. Whenever they do so, one or two voices are heard from afar. When they run into a stranger, they give out a different sound, less sonorous, and whoever knows them well, can tell a Chucao is very nearby, without actually seeing it. As a rule they are found in pairs; quite a common species. To nest it digs a deep burrow in banks or among tree roots where up to three white eggs are laid.
Range: from Neuquén to northern Chubut, within the forest stretch of the subantarctic woods.
Illustrated Handbook of the Birds of Patagonia
Kindless: Kovacs Family

Photographs: Mariano Diez Peña

Birding Patagonia • Birdwatcing in Bariloche, Patagonia, Argentina and Chile.
All Rights reserved. Reproduction of photographs is forbidden without permission from the authors.
Photographs on the website: Mariano Diez Peña