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A photo of a Lanceolated Monklet (Micromonacha lanceolata)
Lanceolated Monklet

Lanceolated Monklet

Micromonacha lanceolata

The Lanceolated Monklet, a diminutive and solitary bird, is a warm brown creature adorned with buffy, scale-like markings. It boasts a robust bill surrounded by white bristles and distinctive white "whiskers" – which are, in fact, tufts of feathers. A white half-ring graces the area behind its eye, and its underparts are a striking white with bold black streaks, save for the unmarked center of the belly and the ochre-tinged vent area.

Identification Tips

To identify this elusive bird, look for its length of 13 to 15 cm and a weight of 19 to 22 g. The Lanceolated Monklet's large bill, white facial bristles, and whiskers are key features, along with its dark brown wings and tail. The underside of the tail is gray, and the underparts are predominantly white with pronounced black streaking.


The Lanceolated Monklet inhabits a variety of landscapes, including forest edges, clearings of primary and mature secondary forests, small forest patches, and shade coffee plantations. It is also found in lowland and montane evergreen forests, preferring mid- to upper-level vegetation.


This species is found in disjunct areas across several countries, including Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Brazil, and Bolivia. It is typically found at elevations ranging from 300 to 1,500 meters but can be spotted as high as 2,100 meters.


The Lanceolated Monklet is a perch hunter, often seen 4 to 8 meters above the ground, from where it sallies forth to capture insect prey. It is also known to partake in berries and occasionally joins mixed-species foraging flocks.

Song & calls

The song of the Lanceolated Monklet is a series of high, thin, plaintive rising whistles, each note slightly higher than the last. Its contact call is a thin, high-pitched 'tsip tsip'.


Breeding behavior includes nesting in a chamber at the end of a tunnel in an earthen bank, where a clutch of two white eggs is laid on a bed of dry leaves.

Conservation status

The IUCN has classified the Lanceolated Monklet as Least Concern, with a large range and a population estimated at over 50,000 mature individuals. However, the population is thought to be decreasing, and the bird's rarity varies across its range. It may be underreported due to its elusive nature.

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Lanceolated Monklets on Birda

A map showing the sighting location
James Leone
09 Jan 2024 - 5:43pm

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