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Species Guide

Silvery-fronted Tapaculo

Scytalopus argentifrons

The Silvery-fronted Tapaculo, Scytalopus argentifrons, is a diminutive bird, measuring a mere 11 cm in length and tipping the scales at 17 grams. This species is adorned with a distinctive silvery forehead, which gives rise to its common name.

Identification Tips

Males of the nominate subspecies boast a predominantly sooty black plumage, with the lower breast and belly exhibiting a paler shade. The flanks and crissum are tinged with a brownish red, and a white supercilium graces their faces. The Chiriqui male is cloaked in a darker plumage and sports a less conspicuous supercilium. Females lack the supercilium and are dressed in dark brown above, with dark gray throats and breasts, blackish bellies, and flanks and crissum of a more vivid brownish red than the males. Juveniles mirror the females but are darker and display brown "scales" on their underparts.


The Silvery-fronted Tapaculo is a denizen of the Talamancan montane forests, thriving at altitudes ranging from 1,000 to 3,000 meters. It has a penchant for the dense thickets and bamboo stands that populate the undergrowth of both humid primary and secondary forests, often near ravines and streams.


This bird is the sole member of its family to exclusively inhabit Central America. The Chiriqui subspecies is endemic to western Panama, while the nominate subspecies extends its range from western Panama through Costa Rica, nearing the Nicaraguan border.


The Silvery-fronted Tapaculo is a ground-dweller, foraging with a creeping and hopping motion as it searches for its invertebrate prey.

Song & Calls

The song of this species is a captivating series of notes that decelerate yet crescendo over a span of five to ten seconds. Its call is a truncated version of its song, sharing a similar rhythmic pattern.

Conservation Status

The IUCN has classified the Silvery-fronted Tapaculo as Least Concern. Despite its limited range and unknown population numbers, it is considered fairly common and benefits from the existence of protected areas within its habitat.

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Silvery-fronted Tapaculos on Birda


More Tapaculos

A photo of a Ocellated Tapaculo (Acropternis orthonyx)

Ocellated Tapaculo

Acropternis orthonyx
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